UAE elects female parliamentary speaker

Friday 27/11/2015
Amal al-Qubaisi

LONDON - Amal al-Qubaisi was elected to lead the Unit­ed Arab Emirates’ Fed­eral National Council (FNC), the first woman to do so since the advisory body’s formation in 1971. The vote also marks the first time a woman has held the top parliamentary post in any Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country.

Qubaisi, who previously served as deputy speaker, ran unop­posed. She is one of eight women appointed to the 40-seat council, which has a purely advisory role and whose seats are split equally between elected and appointed members.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Dubai emir and UAE vice-president and prime minister, said on his Twitter ac­count: “We were delighted to see Amal al-Qubaisi elected chairper­son of FNC, first Arab woman in the region to hold such post.”

“Emirati women have been great leaders and great achievers, es­tablishing significant regional and global presence for themselves and the UAE,” he added.

Qubaisi, an architecture profes­sor at UAE University, has had a distinguished career in public ser­vice. In 2006 she became the first woman elected to the FNC. She has also worked with UNESCO on con­servation projects. In recognition of that work, chiefly her efforts in getting more than 350 historic ar­eas registered as World Heritage Sites, Qubaisi was given the 2008 Abu Dhabi Award.

In 2011, she was elected as first deputy speaker of the FNC and be­came the first woman to lead a ses­sion of the council in 2013.

“I am honoured to congratulate, on behalf of my colleagues, the leaders of the UAE on the inaugura­tion of the 16th Legislative Chapter of the FNC. Today we continue the journey of the FNC that includes some of the best individuals of the country, as elected by the people, hand in hand to accomplish a com­mon goal,” Qubaisi said Novem­ber 18th during her first session as speaker.

“I would like to thank everybody who has supported me and placed this valuable trust in me ever since the beginning of my political ca­reer, especially my mother for her unwavering generosity, kindness and support.”

The FNC is one of the UAE’s five federal authorities. Its official man­date is to provide for public debate of legislation as well as discuss proposals and plans of various fed­eral ministries, entities and public institutions. Since 2006, half of the FNC’s members have been elected to their posts, while the remaining members were appointed by the UAE’s royal court.

This year, 224,000 people had the right to vote out of a citizen population of just less than 1 mil­lion. That compared with 129,000 in 2011 and 6,000 in the UAE’s first election in 2006. The electoral roll is drawn up by the rulers of the seven sheikhdoms that make up the United Arab Emirates.

Women are highly active in Emi­rati society, playing prominent roles and occupying top positions, including high-level government posts and executive posts in the public sector.

There are four women in min­isterial positions and three of the UAE’s ambassadors, one consul-general and the UAE’s permanent representative to the United Na­tions are women. Emirati women serve in the military and police forces while women make up 66% of the workforce in the public sec­tor, with 30% in senior and deci­sion-making positions.