The United Arab Emirates will be the first Gulf Arab state to start constructing a nuclear power plant in the region, where top oil exporters seek alternative energy resources to meet the soaring electricity demand that threatens to absorb their precious oil and gas reserves. UAE’s nuclear regulator on July 18 said that it granted a licence to Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp (ENEC) for the construction of the OPEC member country’s first two nuclear reactors, which will be built by a South Korean-led consortium, a project worth billions of dollars.
Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011 has prompted several countries to think twice about their atomic ambitions but nuclear remains an attractive option for the oil-producing Gulf Arab states, including top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, where power demand is set to soar in the next decade. The UAE’s nuclear regulator said the construction licence was granted following thorough evaluation of eighteen months and this project would avoid mistakes made in Japan. UAE will be the second country in the region that is developing a national nuclear programme after Iran, whose Russian-built Bushehr plant is part of its nuclear programme. “We will continue to be conscious of our responsibility that nuclear power in the UAE is used safely, securely, and only for peaceful purposes,” Travers said in a statement.