UAE - Profiles - Ministers.
A former secretary general of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), Shaikh Fahim Al Qassimi of Ras Al Khaimah was made minister of economy and trade, replacing Said Ghobash. Shaikh Majed Bin Said Al Nuaimi of Ajman became state minister for Supreme Council affairs, replacing Shaikh Mohammed Bin Saqr Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi of Ras Al Khaimah. Ali Al Sharhan, another newcomer, was made minister of education. Mohammed Khalfan Bin Kharbash became state minister for finance and industry, succeeding Ahmad Al Tayer.
The Supreme Council, of which Shaikh Maktoum is vice president under Shaikh Zayed, comprises the rulers of the union's seven emirates. This is the top policy-making body for the UAE. It is vested with legislative as well as executive powers, ratifying federal laws and decrees, planning general policy, approving the nomination of the PM and accepting his resignation.
The Supreme Council can relieve the PM from his post upon the recommendation of the president. It elects the president and the vice president for five-year terms, and both may be re-elected.
At an historic meeting on May 20, 1996, the Supreme Council approved an amendment to the union's provisional constitution, making it permanent. The amendment confirmed the city of Abu Dhabi as the capital of the federation.
The Federal National Council (FNC), the union's parliament, has 40 members drawn from the seven emirates on the basis of their population: eight for each of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, six each for Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, and four each for Fujairah, Umm Al Quwain and Ajman.
Presided over by a speaker, or by either of two deputy speakers elected from among their number, constitutionally the FNC is responsible for examining and, if it wishes, amending, all proposed federal legislation. It is empowered to summon and question any federal minister regarding performance.
One of the main duties of the FNC is to discuss the annual UAE budget. Specialised sub-committees and a research and studies unit have been formed to assist FNC members to cope with increasing demands of modern government.
Parallel to, and occasionally interlocking with, the federal institutions, each of the seven emirates has its own local government. Although all local governments have been expanded significantly as a result of the UAE's growth since the 1970s, they differ in size and complexity from one emirate to another, depending on a variety of factors such as population, area, and degree of economic development.
In Dubai the Municipal Council acts as a local government and is headed by Shaikh Hamdan (see below).