This Happened—December 18: An Arab Monarchy Samples Democracy
The United Arab Emirates, a monarchy, had not allowed elections in its political system. On this day in 2006, that changed.
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Why did the Arab Emirates decide to hold elections?
The aim was to increase political participation among Emiratis through a “political empowerment program”, which the Federal National Council, the country’s advisory body, would be the perfect way to hear the concerns of the country’s citizens.
Who was allowed to run in the UAE elections?
The number of people who could run for elected positions was small, based on a number of qualifying factors. The first Electoral College was small with a total of 6,595. The 40 members of the Federal National Council consisted of 20 elected members and 20 members appointed by the rulers of each Emirate. Almost 300,000 citizens over 18 years qualified to vote, 1,163 of which were women.
Following the elections, the new Federal National Council began on February 12, 2007, led by President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. One woman, Amal Al Qubaisi in Abu Dhabi, was elected and eight others were appointed as members.