As the reign of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, father of the Emirates and the Arab sage, was about creation of the state, the reign of HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of State, is about empowerment. We know this fact in the United Arab Emirates. The empowerment is achieved indeed in this sense by the exceptional speech of the President marking the National Day 2005. This speech has been later considered a historic document that contains the approach of HH Sheikh Khalifa which has become a government action plan after the Federal Supreme Council adopted the speech and the underlying goals. The speech covered aspects of development and called for moral or moral-like actions such as environment protection or volunteering.
However, the main focus of HH Sheikh Khalifa speech in 2005 as stressed in his national day speech in 2007 is related to the elections of the Federal National Council to empower the Emirati citizen through gradual political participation. Since then, empowerment in all senses especially that of elections and political participation is somewhat on the table. We hope that this term would be our daily and strategic concern and would be labeled as top priority in our national agenda.
Zayed’s creation of the state was conducive to Khalifa’s empowerment. That is a fact. The constitution of the United Arab Emirates was advanced and really ahead of its time. In the constitution, the Federal National Council is the fourth federal authority after the Federal Supreme Council, president and vice president of the state and the cabinet. According to the constitution, the fifth authority is the federal judiciary which has stood tall in the last decades as a safety for this country.
What does it mean that the founding fathers including the late Sheikh Zayed have decided to have the Federal National Council is the fourth authority? It is an early call to engage the kind and dear people of the United Arab Emirates (according to a video by HH Sheikh Zayed) in legislation and country management.
The FNC has managed to achieve part of this. It was a school from which several ministers, heads of departments and officers have graduated. The FNC must positively play its role to the end, giving honest and transparent opinions on the referred issues. This point has been reiterated by both the Late Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Khalifa.
What has been written in documents should be put into force. The FNC does not have as low ceiling as some suggests. This ceiling is going to be higher on gradual basis in the years to come. However, this needs positive and limitless contribution from the members as the parliamentarian representation of people cannot tolerate: compromised solutions and half measures.
The members should extensively give inside and outside the State. Always take steps forward and never go back. Build on what has been done without a break with the past. The council should encourage teamwork and avoid the blocs we have seen before at sporadic events. Some say that they feel the ceiling will not allow for this. Such feeling should be ignored
The ceiling allows for a lot of things unlike some allegations. The FNC members have time and should use it all to serve country and citizens. We should here state a fact. The FNC has wasted a lot of time because of some interruptions, longer summer vacation before the constitutional amendment, meeting for one day only instead of two consecutive days unless there is an emergency or because of repeatedly discussed issues.
Empowerment can be achieved through more knowledge of both the local and international affairs and hard work to review laws, legislation and regulations on a regular basis. This would include coordination with the executive and higher authorities on some long-awaited constitutional amendments. The amendments include modification of article that provides for the number of the FNC members at 40. It is not reasonable to have the same number in both 1972 and 2015 while citizen numbers are multiplying, scholarships are making comeback to the UAE and institutions are developing within a remarkable governmental performance not only on the region but also on the world.
Will the 2015 FNC work together with senior executives on constitutional amendments that live up to the UAE expectations?
Such slates are key in terms of choice and representation. This year, slates are almost free of the errors of the two previous experiences which contained some names of deceased people. These errors may have been avoided because of the reliance on the Emirates ID Authority and the Population Register. We should thank the Emirates ID Authority on their effort and learn from this experience after extracting the participant numbers. Like our previous experiences, some names are still away from the competition whether as voters or candidates. We should consider election as one consistent and indivisible experience.