UAE creates history with first Arab nuclear plant


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It’s a red letter day for the UAE as it became the first peaceful nuclear energy operator in the Arab world on Saturday [August 1, 2020], after successfully starting up Unit 1 reactor of the Barakah nuclear plant in Abu Dhabi. In doing so, the UAE joins an elite group of countries worldwide that have successfully developed the intellectual and infrastructural capacity to use nuclear energy to generate safe, clean and reliable baseload electricity — in this case that will help meet the country’s growing energy needs for the next 60 years.

As described by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the team of top ministers, government officials, scientists and nuclear experts at the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and its subsidiary, Nawah Energy Company, who have been relentlessly engaged in this project even amid a raging pandemic deserve the richest congratulations for “realising this historic achievement in the energy sector & marking this milestone in the road map for sustainable development.”

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Following closely on the heels of the successful launch of the UAE Hope Probe to Mars, this extraordinary Emirati achievement not only showcases the world-class technical prowess of the UAE, but also demonstrates yet again that the UAE will always strive to help the international community with projects and technology that benefit and enrich humanity, not just its own population. Even a global pandemic cannot distract or deter the UAE from its pursuit of peaceful developmental goals towards a sustainable future.

This significant milestone for the UAE also marks a major step in the country’s journey towards diversifying its economy away from fossil fuels and adding the technological and engineering feat of nuclear power generation to its list of commercial successes.

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One of the key foundations of the UAE’s nuclear policy has been the highest standards of transparency towards all aspects of the project — including its safety and security. Since issuing the operating licence for Unit 1 earlier this year and until reaching this critical phase, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) carried out rigorous reviews in the Barakah plant to ensure its compliance with all regulatory requirements. The IAEA also applauded the UAE’s peaceful nuclear programme after rigorously assessing its most critical aspects — from nuclear infrastructure to emergency preparedness and non-proliferation.

The UAE has thus become a role model for nuclear newcomers to build and operate a nuclear programme in a short span of time — and the Arab world and the rest of the international community would do well to emulate that inspiring message of hope for humanity.


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