Polls take place in the last three emirates on Wednesday for the seats, which are being contested by 439 candidates.

 

Vote hailed

 

"I am very happy to be participating politically for the first time in our nation," said Huda Mutawe, 27, a female government worker who is running in Dubai.

   

"I hope democracy will be on a wider scale so that the National Council members will all be elected by voters."

 

Once these polls are over, the FNC's role will be expanded from that of a consultative body with no legislative powers to an assembly with more oversight powers, election officials say.

   

The UAE plans to extend suffrage to all Emiratis eventually, something which election officials say may happen in four years.

 

Voting was brisk in Dubai, with people voting electronically before dropping a printed red ballot in a clear box as back up.

   

In Dubai, 1,520 voters will be choosing from 77 candidates, including 15 women. In Ras al-Khaimah, over 1,000 voters will choose from 80 candidates, including three women.