Woman wins seat in first-ever UAE election

A woman was elected to an advisory council in the United Arab Emirates Saturday in the first national polls in the Gulf country, in which only a tiny part of the population is taking part.

Woman wins seat in first-ever UAE election

"This is an honor I will carry ... all my life. It is proof that the Emirati people are [politically] aware," Amal Abdullah Al Kubaissi said after winning one of four seats up for grabs in oil-rich Abu Dhabi.

Kubaissi, a British-educated architect in her mid-30s who teaches at Emirates University, came third with 265 votes, according to official results.

She said that her victory showed that "women's participation [in public life] is very important."

Three-stage elections to fill half the 40 seats of the Federal National Council (FNC) began in Abu Dhabi and the smaller emirate of Fujairah Saturday, making the UAE the last Gulf Arab monarchy to hold a national poll.

Only members of electoral colleges appointed by the rulers of the UAE's seven emirates are entitled to vote and to stand for office.

About 60 percent of the electoral college of 1,741 people, which included 382 women, turned out to vote in Abu Dhabi, according to official figures.

Kubaissi was one of 14 women among a total of 99 candidates in Abu Dhabi.

Officials said that turnout was over 80 percent of the electoral college of 417 in Fujairah. Only one woman was among the 35 candidates there.

Electoral colleges were to vote in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah Monday, and in Ajman, Sharjah, and Umm Al Qaiwain Wednesday.

Oil-rich UAE has 825,000 citizens, more than 300,000 over the age of 18. But only 6,595 of them - chosen by each emirate's ruler - were entitled to vote across the country, including 1,163 women.

There is a total of 438 candidates, including 63 women.

The UAE, which has two women in the cabinet, has become the first country in the conservative Muslim Gulf region where a woman wins a mandate right from the first national vote.

Despite having had a parliament for four decades, Kuwait gave women the right to vote and stand for public office only in May 2005, and no woman managed to get elected in polls last June.

In Bahrain, a woman won a seat in parliament in recent elections after she stood unopposed in her constituency, but none was elected in parliamentary polls in 2002.

Two women entered Oman's advisory council when women were given political rights in 1994, but that was three years after indirect elections were first held in the sultanate.

In Abu Dhabi, ballots were cast in a gymnasium festooned with national flags, with voters following instructions provided by a female official on a giant screen.

Each voter picked up to four candidates on a computer, then made a print-out of their choices to slip into a ballot box.

The FNC can debate bills submitted by the government, but cannot propose or pass legislation. Its unelected half will continue to be appointed by the UAE's rulers.

Some candidates criticized the elections for being confined to a small group of people.

State minister for FNC affairs Anwar Mohammed Gargash said that "minor irregularities" had occurred, but did not elaborate.

The government has described the polls as the start of a process that will eventually see all Emiratis electing half the members of an expanded council with greater powers.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16