Abdul Hamid Ahmad offers a critical take on the election campaign in the UAE so far. His suggestions for the next elections:
The next time round we need to encourage these people to engage more voters. We should have drawn up a plan to pave the path for them by taking certain measures. For example, government-owned television and radio should have opened their doors to them to be guests to present their manifestos and debate on issues related to the FNC. Newspapers could have given 50 per cent discount on advertisements.
Municipalities could have earmarked certain locations on crowded streets for candidates to stick their posters. But none of this happened. Everything was left to public relations companies to bargain and make money from these poor campaigners. I hope that the National Election Committee will learn from this and draw up a better plan to help candidates run successful campaigns by encouraging them, especially since donations for campaigns is not a part of the culture in the UAE.
Public debates would also serve the electorate as would a comprehensive news site with information on all the candidate positions. I was in talks with another organization to put together an election information site but we scrapped the plans because of the time constraints. With only a few weeks between the announcement of candidates and the elections, time is too short to build true awareness of the candidates.
Hopefully next time, as Abdul Hamid Ahmad says, the National Elections Council can capitalize on these lessons.