The Federal National Council is the representative body of the people of the UAE. The Council is considered the fourth of the five federal authorities set forth in the Constitution. The FNC was established on 12th February 1972. It is composed of members representing the seven emirates. There are 8 seats each for the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai,6 seats each for the emirates of Sharjah and Ras AI Khaimah; and 4 seats each for the emirates of Ajman, Umm AI Quwain and Fujairah.
The FNC consists of five main bodies: the Speaker, the Board, the committees, the Inter-parliamentary Division, and the general secretariat. The FNC carries out its legislative role by receiving from the Cabinet constitutional amendments, draft bills, and the federal annual general budget and statement of accounts. The FNC has the right to discuss such instruments, and then approve, or refuse them, with or without amendment. The instruments are then submitted to the Cabinet, and lastly presented to the President of the Union and the Supreme Council for ratification. In addition, the FNC carries out its oversight role by addressing public issues, submitting questions to the Prime Minister and ministers, issuing recommendations, looking into complaints, and publishing statements expressing its opinion on national, Arab and international issues.
Parliamentary diplomacy is the primary function of the Inter-Parliamentary Division. It performs its work by representing the FNC at Arab, regional and international parliamentary unions.
The implementation of empowerment programmes was a remarkable development in the parliamentary life of the UAE. The programmes were announced in 2005 by the President of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed AI Nahyan . As a result, elections were held for half the members of the FNC in 2006, 2011 and 2015. Women were able to vote and be elected as members of the Council. The FNC was the first legislature in the Arab world to elect a woman as its Speaker. The programmes also included the implementation of constitutional amendment No. 1 of 2009. The amendment extended parliamentary terms of office to four years and lengthened the regular annual session of parliament to seven months. The FNC was also granted the power to amend by-laws.