Gulf News Online Edition  
 Dubai:Sunday, September 28, 2003  

Omanis in UAE allowed to vote in Shura council polls
Abu Dhabi |By Barbara Bibbo', Staff Reporter | 28-09-2003
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Omanis in the UAE will be allowed to vote for Shura council members back home in the first-ever overseas suffrage in Oman's history.

Omani citizens above the age of 21 will be able to cast their votes here on September 30, four days ahead of the elections in Oman.

The Omani embassy in Abu Dhabi will remain open on Tuesday from 7am to 7pm. On the same day, another polling station will be set up in Dubai at the Commercial Office of Oman, from 7am to 7pm.

Ali Al Farsi, Omani Counsellor to the UAE, said Omanis who wish to vote must produce a valid ID. "It is difficult to forecast how many Omanis in the UAE will come to vote," he said. "As GCC citizens they are allowed to move freely within the GCC states and we do not keep a register of those residing in the UAE."

Nevertheless, Al Farsi said many Omani businessmen or visitors travelling to the UAE could decide to vote here. About 9,000 Omani students are studying in the UAE and they could also be among the voters.

The election for the Majlis Al Shura marks the path of Oman's political reforms. According to a decree issued last November by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, all citizens over 21 will be allowed to vote.

Previously, only one quarter of Oman's 1.8 million citizens were eligible to vote and were chosen by the Government from tribal leaders, academics and business leaders.

The 83-seat Majlis Al Shura is the lower house of Parliament, while the 48-seat Majlis Al Dawla is the upper house. The Parliament has the task of advising the government on economic and domestic issues.

The elections of 2000 marked a historical moment when two women were elected for the first time to the Majlis Al Shura.

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