UAE celebrates international collaboration

23 October 2017

As the UAE progresses steadily with its peaceful nuclear energy programme, the nation continues to work closely with international experts to ensure the highest levels of nuclear quality and safety. This international collaboration has been an essential part of the programme throughout, and is a key feature that all new nuclear energy projects around the world can learn and benefit from, writes Hamad Alkaabi.

It fills me with immense pride to now see more than 400 Emiratis who have obtained nuclear energy related qualifications. As the first Emirati nuclear engineer, I gained detailed insights and knowledge from the international community early on in my career and continue to do so today. I believe that global knowledge transfer and sharing of experiences are critical for the ongoing development of our industry.

An increasing number of countries see civil nuclear energy programmes playing an essential role in addressing climate change and contributing to their sustainable development goals. Thirty countries already operate nuclear energy plants that provide 11% of the world's electricity without emitting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. More countries around the world are considering peaceful nuclear energy programmes, with an additional thirty nations assessing or preparing to introduce nuclear energy plants.

At the end of this month, we will welcome high-level delegations and international experts at the International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century, organised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to be held in Abu Dhabi. This is the first time a high-level IAEA conference on nuclear power will be held in the Middle East, which is a testament to the progress the UAE has made in its peaceful nuclear energy programme.

It also marks the significant relationship between the IAEA and the UAE and the strong ties that link the two. Cooperation between the IAEA and the UAE is important on a global level, because when the nation started out on its journey to develop a peaceful nuclear energy programme, the UAE was the first to do so in more than 30 years. Today, less than 10 years later, we are in the advanced stages of the nuclear energy programme, providing a recent and successful experience to the global community. In 2016, the UAE nuclear project, under construction by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, contributed 53% of all operational experience content for nuclear projects under construction globally, establishing and demonstrating a strong commitment to transparency and enhancing institutional learning for the global industry. This has only been achieved as a result of us learning from global experts and exchanging best practices.

We have been a Member State of the IAEA since 1976. The undertaking of a nuclear energy programme was accompanied by the establishment of a transparent and detailed policy framework followed by the development of comprehensive nuclear infrastructure and dedicated institutions. It is a programme that has been developed according to IAEA guidance and best international practices.

The UAE has benefited greatly from the transfer of knowledge and guidance from the IAEA. We have recorded more than 3700 UAE participants in various IAEA activities since 2010, and have welcomed nine major review missions from the IAEA. The IAEA has played a pivotal role in assisting the UAE and other member states in the areas of peaceful uses of nuclear energy and nuclear applications.

This international cooperation has facilitated the transfer of nuclear technology and knowledge, and helped us implement international agreements and conventions, obtain assistance and advice from experts, and request peer reviews of UAE activities.

Working with international experts is critical for new nuclear programmes in developing technical expertise in the areas of nuclear energy security, safety and other nuclear applications in various fields. We advise and recommend all nations considering developing new nuclear energy projects to learn from our case and to work closely with the global community to ensure the highest levels of nuclear standards are met.

The International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century is another major opportunity for us to learn more from other nations, exchange best practices and share insights on a number of key areas. We look forward to welcoming the international nuclear energy community in Abu Dhabi, showcasing our pride and our success in developing the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme and to continue working closely together in the future.

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Hamad Alkaabi is UAE Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century will be held in Abu Dhabi between 30 October and 1 November.