UAE developing its nuclear workforce

09 November 2009

Applications are being taken for the second batch of nuclear students in the United Arab Emirates as the first batch begins its studies.


The program provides UAE nationals with a full scholarship to enrol in some of the world's finest universities and pursue a Bachelors or Masters degree in nuclear, mechanical, or electrical engineering. Once the studies are complete, the selected UAE national scholars will work in the UAE's growing nuclear energy industry.


The first year of the UAE nuclear scholarship program launched in May 2009 and received more than 500 applications. After a rigorous selection process, 38 students were ultimately awarded the scholarships. These students have now begun their coursework at a number of leading institutions in the UAE, France, the UK and the USA, including Paris Orsay University and Georgia Tech.


The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec), Khalifa University for Science, Technology and Research (Kustar) and the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) announced yesterday the opening of admissions for the second round of the annual scholarship program.


In order to gain admission, applicants must meet several minimum requirements that demonstrate English proficiency and academic achievement. Scholars are then invited for interviews with a panel of ENEC and FANR training specialists and KUSTAR professors. The interviews are used to select the final candidates based on academic performance, and their willingness and motivation to join the program and eventually the UAE nuclear energy industry.


Fahad Al Qahtani, ENEC's media relations manager, said: "This initiative is a testament to the Government of Abu Dhabi's commitment to develop a highly skilled workforce in the UAE to lead the future of the UAE nuclear energy industry for years to come."


He added, "We have consistently been impressed with the calibre of students enrolled in this program and we look forward to welcoming the newest class of leading students to join the nuclear industry in the UAE. The participation of talented UAE Nationals is critical to the long-term success of the UAE nuclear energy program and Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation is committed to supporting this next generation of leaders."


According to the UAE government's July 2008 statement on nuclear policy, the country's energy demand is likely to double by 2020. Natural gas supplies are only likely to be able to meet half of the projected growth, and nuclear is seen as a proven, competitive option to meet the demand while providing future energy security. The UAE is therefore actively working towards introducing nuclear power with plans for three reactors to be online by 2020. It has signed cooperation agreements and memoranda of understanding with a number of countries and companies including France, the UK and the USA.


Companies including Areva, General Electric and Korea Electric Power Co are bidding for contracts worth an estimated $40 billion to construct the UAE's first reactors. The UAE government was expected to take a decision on these bids in mid-September and, although it could not meet that deadline, a decision is said to be coming soon.