Elections in UAE

Elections in UAE

Elections in UAE stand as a pivotal expression of the nation’s commitment to fostering democratic principles and encouraging active citizen participation in shaping its political landscape. Recognized globally for its rapid economic development and cultural diversity, the UAE has continually refined its electoral process to create a dynamic platform for citizens to engage meaningfully in the decision-making process. These elections in UAE serve not only as a cornerstone for representative governance but also as a crucial mechanism for individuals to voice their opinions, contribute to policy formulation, and play an integral role in the ongoing development of this forward-thinking nation.

As the UAE’s political landscape evolves, the significance of elections in UAE becomes increasingly pronounced, reflecting the nation’s dedication to democratic values and the empowerment of its diverse population.

The UAE has conducted four elections. The initial one took place in 2006. Here is a concise overview of each Federal National Council (FNC) election.

Elections in UAE

Elections in UAE

Total four elections in UAE are as follows…

The first election in UAE was held in 2006

The inaugural Federal National Council elections took place in December 2006, under Resolution No. 3 of 2006, issued by the late H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. The electoral college consisted of 6,595 members nationwide, with 456 candidates vying for FNC membership.

Key highlights of 2006 elections:

The election campaigns addressed various community concerns, including national identity, employment opportunities, education, healthcare, women’s and children’s rights, housing, and the enhancement of living conditions for Emirati nationals.

Electronic voting (eVoting) machines were employed for the electoral process, utilizing computer technologies to register and securely store candidates and voters’ information, as well as verify their identities.

A noteworthy achievement of the 2006 FNC elections was the significant representation of Emirati women, who held 22.2 percent of the total seats. For the first time, eight women were appointed, and one was elected, marking one of the highest rates of women’s representation in a country’s parliament worldwide.

The second election in UAE was held in 2011

The second Federal National Council (FNC) election, held on September 24, 2011, marked a significant step forward in the UAE’s political empowerment program. This election witnessed a notable increase in the engagement of citizens in the selection of their representatives in the Federal National Council.

Key highlights of 2011 elections:

The electoral college expanded to include 135,308 voters, with 469 candidates, including 85 women, running for office.

Voters were comprised of 54 percent men and 46 percent women.

Candidates utilized social media networks for campaign activities and engaging with voters.

Electronic voting systems were implemented at 13 polling stations throughout the UAE.

The minimum number of electoral college members was raised to 300 times the number of seats designated for each emirate, without a maximum limit.

Elections in the UAE

The third election in UAE was held in 2015

The third election occurred in October 2015.

Key highlights of 2015 elections:

  • The electoral college grew to encompass 224,279 voters, with women accounting for 48 percent of the total.
  • A total of 79,157 voters participated, including 48,330 men and 30,827 women, resulting in an increased voter turnout of 35.29 percent.
  • The elections featured 330 candidates, including 74 women, representing various emirates.
  • Elderly participation in the electoral process improved as electronic voting became more accessible to them.
  • The number of polling stations across the country increased to 36.
  • An innovation was the introduction of early voting, lasting for three days and enabling 37,663 voters to cast their votes. Voting also took place outside the UAE in 94 polling centers at UAE diplomatic missions in numerous countries.

There was one appeal from a candidate in Dubai challenging the validity of the preliminary results, but the National Election Committee (NEC) rejected the appeal due to insufficient evidence.

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The Fourth election in UAE was held in 2019

Upon the conclusion of the fourth cycle of Federal National Council (FNC) elections, the UAE has entered a new phase of “Tamkeen,” the country’s political empowerment program introduced by the late H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in his 34th National Day speech in 2005.

The 2019 elections built upon the successes of the preceding three cycles held in 2006, 2011, and 2015. These achievements can be attributed to the steadfast support and guidance of the UAE’s leadership, which has ensured adherence to international best practices throughout all stages of the electoral process.

The remarkable participation of voters, both domestically and abroad, demonstrates the high level of political awareness among Emiratis and their commitment to fulfilling their national responsibilities. The UAE has proactively worked to empower its citizens and instill confidence in the role of the FNC in conveying their needs to decision-makers and finding effective solutions to enhance people’s happiness and well-being.

The fourth election cycle witnessed an unprecedented increase in voter turnout, with a 48.6 percent rise compared to the third cycle. This underscores citizens’ interest in contributing to the decision-making process and enhancing parliamentary functions. The 2019 elections saw a total of 117,592 voters participate, constituting 34.81 percent of the electoral college, a substantial increase compared to the 79,157 voters in 2015.

The UAE’s political development efforts have resulted in a substantial growth in the number of electoral college members since the inception of the first election cycle. In 2006, the electoral college comprised 6,595 citizens. This number increased to 135,308 in 2011, 224,281 in 2015—a 66 percent increase—and 337,738 in 2019, marking a 50.6 percent rise.

The highlight of the 2019 elections was the directive from the late H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to increase the representation of women in the Federal National Council (FNC) to 50 percent, marking a significant milestone in the country’s ongoing efforts to empower women in various fields.

In June 2019, the National Election Committee (NEC) released the Executive Regulations for the fourth round of the FNC elections. Comprising 69 articles divided into nine chapters, these regulations served as the legal framework for the entire electoral process, ensuring transparency and integrity. They comprehensively addressed various aspects of the elections, outlining the duties, rights, and responsibilities of both voters and candidates, as well as the election committees and electoral guidelines.

These regulations also encompassed the provisions of Presidential Resolution No. (1) of 2019, issued by UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, which aimed to elevate women’s representation in the FNC to 50 percent. Additionally, they introduced the Smart Systems Committee as a new sub-committee and eliminated the concept of electoral silence, allowing candidates to campaign until one day before the election day.

In cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the NEC facilitated overseas voting to enable eligible members of the electoral college residing abroad to exercise their voting rights. A total of 118 polling stations, situated in UAE embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions, accommodated 1,842 voters between September 22 and 23, 2019.

Furthermore, nine polling stations across all emirates were open for early voting from October 1 to 3, 2019, which contributed to the robust voter turnout.

On the main election day, October 5, 2019, 39 polling stations remained open across the nation from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Two civil society organizations formally requested to monitor the 2019 FNC elections. Representatives from the Emirates Association for Lawyers and Legal (EALL) and the Emirates Association for Human Rights (EAHR) were present at the polling stations on October 5, 2019.

The NEC also organized the 2019 FNC Elections Visit Program, which included attendance on the main election day, October 5. As part of this program, the Committee hosted representatives from several international entities who observed the electoral process to gain insights into the country’s experience in organizing the elections and implementing a state-of-the-art electronic voting system introduced in the first election cycle.

The delegation included members from the Arab Parliament, the General Secretariat of the Arab League, the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies (ICPS), Sharjah Children’s Parliament, as well as guests from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Egypt.


In conclusion, the transformative journey of elections in UAE underscores the nation’s resolute commitment to fostering democratic ideals and political participation. The continuous evolution of elections in UAE has become a testament to the leadership’s dedication to providing its citizens with a meaningful role in shaping the nation’s future. As elections in UAE become increasingly ingrained in the fabric of its political landscape, they serve as a powerful mechanism for citizens to exercise their democratic rights and contribute actively to the decision-making process.

Looking ahead, the ongoing refinement of elections in UAE is poised to further enhance the nation’s democratic framework, solidifying its reputation as a global pioneer in both economic prosperity and innovative approaches to democratic governance.