What happens if more people switch to driving electric vehicles in the UAE?

Developing EV infrastructure is critical to the UAE’s growth strategy. It would help clean the air and meet net zero goals

UAEV, a new initiative announced at the Electric Vehicle Innovation Summit, seeks to accelerate the UAE's transition to EVs by creating a robust and accessible charging infrastructure. Photo: UAEV
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We live in an age where humanity is confronted with several momentous challenges. If these are addressed today they can go a long way in reshaping the world.

Often these challenges transcend borders, cultures and ideologies. They demand resolve, commitment and urgent action. From climate change and environmental degradation to global health crises and socio-economic inequalities, the magnitude of these challenges requires us to come together as partners to address future challenges. The UAE Year of Sustainability is a reminder of that.

Climate change is one of the most urgent problems facing humanity. To counter it, we need to accelerate the energy transition and put in place sustainable infrastructure and services that allow citizens to tread gently on mother nature.

Globally, Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption is progressing at a fast pace, largely due to ambitious targets to move production towards EVs. In 2022, electric car sales worldwide reached 10 million units, five times higher than sales in 2019. And in 2023, electric car sales were 3.5 million higher than in 2022, a 35 per cent year-on-year increase, according to the International Energy Agency.

When compared to other countries, the UAE EV market has room to grow, and in 2023, demand rose significantly. The UAE has an opportunity to increase EV adoption by stepping up the quality of EV infrastructure across the country. If there were better and more convenient infrastructure, it could change public perception regarding battery range and usability, encouraging more people to make the switch to cleaner transport. In our efforts to confront the most fundamental and intractable challenges, partnerships between government and business can be useful.

In the UAE, there has always been a recognition that the relationship between government and business is not merely transactional; it is symbiotic, rooted in the recognition of complementary strengths and the pursuit of common goals. Government and business together drive economic growth, foster innovation and address societal and environmental challenges.

This is the philosophy which has fuelled the growing partnership between the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure and Etihad Water and Electricity, a partnership which has been cemented by the formation of UAEV, a joint venture to build fast and accessible electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the country.

As a signatory to the UAE Climate Responsible Companies Pledge, EtihadWE represents a new breed of business – dedicated to exploring how an approach to energy and water can be utilised to create a more sustainable and connected society.

EV infrastructure is critical to the UAE’s growth strategy. It also has implications for transportation, energy and the environment. By expanding EV infrastructure, both parties hope to satisfy consumer demand, accelerate the transition to cleaner transportation and reduce emissions from the transportation sector, thereby helping bring the Net Zero 2050 Strategy within reach.

The partnership also aims to improve air quality across the UAE, as electric vehicles don't produce tailpipe emissions. By promoting the adoption of EVs and expanding charging infrastructure, we can reduce harmful air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds, leading to cleaner air and healthier communities across the Emirates.

Sustainability and growth can and should go hand in hand, which is our shared belief and the basis of our joint venture. EV infrastructure presents significant economic opportunities, including job creation in manufacturing, construction, installation and maintenance of charging stations and related infrastructure.

And that’s before we consider that the transition to electric vehicles can stimulate innovation and investment in new technologies, supply chains, and business models, driving economic growth and competitiveness.

The potential of EV infrastructure is vast, multifaceted and necessary. It offers significant benefits in terms of reducing emissions, improving air quality, supporting economic growth and advancing smart city initiatives.

By investing in EV infrastructure and accelerating the transition to electric vehicles, we trust that we can build a more sustainable, resilient and equitable transportation system for the future.

I have long believed that collaboration between government and business is vital for fostering innovation and technological advancement – UAEV has only reaffirmed that belief.

This kind of collaboration enhances our ability to tackle complex challenges and seize new opportunities. UAEV is just one step in ensuring the UAE remains a global leader in green innovation and meets its net zero goals.

Put simply, UAEV is designed to show that government-business partnerships can and should drive change and create value in a society by enhancing sustainable mobility and connecting communities.

Alliances that are similarly forged on the principles of collaboration, mutual benefit and shared responsibility, can stand as cornerstones of progress, prosperity and sustainable development across the UAE.

Published: May 20, 2024, 2:00 PM
Updated: May 23, 2024, 5:39 AM