Nuclear Energy in Service of Development

  • 23 November 2008

Energy of all types and sources is the backbone of development and an essential engine for progress. Nuclear energy is increasingly sought by regional and international actors since it is considered "the energy of the future." The interest of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries in this energy comes from a keen interest in its centrality for their development process which prompted them to adopt it at the Council's summit meeting in Riyadh in 2006 by agreeing to conduct a feasibility study for a common nuclear energy program for peaceful purposes, and some countries have actually embarked on peaceful nuclear programs.

The 14th Annual Energy Conference that the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research holds November 24-26 under the direction of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has special significance. Entitled "Nuclear Energy in the Gulf," the conference will discuss the topic and highlight its different aspects through contributions by experts and specialists. The conference also points to the center's interest in energy as the prime engine for development and its eagerness to foster scientific interactions about issues relevant to the future of the Gulf and the Arab world.

Despite the fact that Gulf countries are leading exporters of oil, they have a marked need for peaceful nuclear programs for their future plans and their development outlook. Gulf countries depend heavily on oil as a primary source for electricity production and desalination which are vital for their national security. It is very important for them to look for another source of energy than the depleted oil they now use. In addition, nuclear technology saves energy since only a small portion is necessary to produce the needed electricity, as opposed to large amounts of oil or gas. Other oil-rich countries, such as Russia for example, devote much effort to nuclear energy and build yet more nuclear reactors. What adds to the pronounced need in the Gulf countries is their high pace of development which demands more energy in the future, not to mention a clean environment for their citizens.

The moderate and peaceful outlook of GCC countries and their adherence to responsible regional and international policies help them preserve their credibility about their nuclear program and deepen international trust in them. The international community is in fact eager to cooperate with them in these matters especially that these counties have been transparent since they decided to seek nuclear energy for development purposes.