Egyptians vote for change.
ABU DHABI/DUBAI -- A large number of Egyptian residents in the UAE turned out to vote in their country's first presidential election since the January 25 revolution on Friday.
A number of young children carrying flags accompanied their parents to the embassy in Abu Dhabi and the consulate in Dubai, as the two polling stations started receiving voters from early morning.
Speaking with Khaleej Times, Egyptian Ambassador to the UAE Tamer Mansoor said, "There are more than 29,000 Egyptians registered in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region while more than 32,000 voters are registered in Dubai and Northern Emirates."
Some 320,000 Egyptian residents are based in the UAE as the historic elections bring new hope to people. Registered voters in the Electoral College, representing the 27 provinces, can vote for their choice of president until May 17.
"We expect seven to eight thousand people to cast their votes daily until May 17 with the ballots open from 8am to 8pm," added the diplomat.
Mohammed Al Hawwari, Deputy Ambassador, was the first to cast his vote on Friday.
"It was a memorable and exciting moment when I put the ballot paper in the box -- a really great experience. We don't know who will win the election, but whoever wins, he will be the peoples' choice," he said.
Abu Yusuf, an accountant, shared similar sentiments as he said, "I have not slept since Thursday getting ready for this 'mission'. All my family members, including young children, are here with me to feel this historic moment, and see the first steps of a flourishing future."
"I never cast my vote in previous presidential elections. Now, the situation is completely different. My voice counts," said 40-year-old Naji M.
Voting in Egypt is on May 23 and 24 with a run-off in June. As per the Presidency Elections Commission in Egypt, 586,801 Egyptians staying in 166 countries are eligible to cast their votes in 130 embassies and 14 consulates across the world.
Mohab Nasr, Consul-General of Egypt in Dubai, told Khaleej Times that the voters were initially asked to present the original copy of Egyptian IDs for better transparency, but the Higher Commission for Presidency Elections, in response to hundreds of complaints, has instructed all Egyptian missions around the world to accept a clear copy instead.
"Voters, however, still need to verify their stay in the UAE with the residence visa, driving licence, or the like. General or special power of attorneys are still unacceptable."
According to the official website of the commission, most of the Egyptians eligible for voting abroad are staying in Saudi Arabia with 261,924 voters while 119,234 voters are in Kuwait.
Though around 1,500 Egyptians did want to join the race and withdrew the set presidency applications some months back, the final list includes only 13 candidates after the disqualification of ten others on different grounds.
The Egyptian Embassy in Abu Dhabi made special arrangements for the polling, as 20 ballot boxes were arranged in alphabetical order lined up in the main hall.
An excited Eman Fauwad had come along with her family to cast her vote as she said, "The elections ought to guarantee a brighter future for the country and its people. We are optimistic this election will bring positive change not only to the Egyptian people but to the entire region."
Of the 13 candidates, a tough contest is expected among four -- Abdel Monem Abul Futoh, former member of Muslim Brotherhood; Amr Moussa, former Foreign Minister; Mohammed Mursi, a Muslim Brotherhood candidate; and independent Ahmed Shafiq. Abul Futoh and Moussa are seen as the top-ranking contenders.
Another voter, Mohammed Abdul Maqsood, said: "When we have elected leaders or an elected parliament, we can control the corruption through public participation in decision making. An elected president or a government will be accountable to voters."
The Egyptian Embassy in Abu Dhabi and Consulate in Dubai will receive voters in person. They can also send their votes by mail to Egyptian Embassy, Abu Dhabi, P.O. Box 4026 or the Egyptian Consulate, Dubai, P.O. Box 2575.
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