UAE to award $1.5m grants for rain enhancement projects

Funds will help to support innovative plans to bolster the country's water security

Cloud seeding is used to support agriculture and food security in the UAE. Photo: Wam
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The UAE will award its latest round of grants for rain enhancement projects in January.

Grants of up to $1.5 million each will be issued under the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science (UAEREP).

The funds are to be distributed over three years to each winner and will aim to bolster water security.

Proposals for this cycle were whittled down to eight submitted by 64 researchers, scientists and experts affiliated with 35 institutions in 10 countries, including the UAE.

The projects were assessed by global experts in areas including weather modification, cloud physics, hydrometeorology and artificial intelligence.

It marks the fifth grant cycle and the winners will be announced in Abu Dhabi on January 23.

“The UAE remains committed to its strategic objectives of promoting environmental sustainability and bolstering water security both locally and globally,” said Dr Abdulla Al Mandous, director general of the National Centre of Meteorology and president of the World Meteorological Organisation.

“The ceremony announcing the awardees of UAEREP’s fifth cycle adds further momentum to these efforts, closely following the successful hosting of Cop28 by the UAE.

"This provides an additional opportunity for local, regional and international experts and research institutions to collaborate and contribute to the pursuit of water sustainability through cutting-edge scientific research and advanced technologies."

How cloud seeding works

How cloud seeding works

The programme was launched in 2015 by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Presidential Court, to address water security.

Previous grant winners include projects to use of drones in cloud seeding; an initiative to develop algorithms to identify clouds capable of creating rain; and a plan to use nanotechnology to accelerate water condensation and increase the potential for rain.

About 2.3 billion people around the world live in water-stressed countries, including 733 million who live in high and critically water-stressed countries, the UN said.

Water scarcity is a serious challenge in the Middle East and North Africa.

On average, the UAE receives less than 100mm of rain a year. It launched a cloud seeding programme in the 1990s, which has been key to increasing rainfall, supporting agriculture and bolstering food security.

Alya Al Mazroui, director of the UAEREP, said innovation was crucial in the "development of highly effective technologies and practical solutions essential for ensuring water security in arid and semi-arid regions worldwide".

"Over the past years, we have been dedicated to providing support and funding for a diverse range of innovative technologies," she said.

"We are confident that the newly selected projects will build on this legacy, introducing novel innovations to advance the field of rain enhancement science research."

Updated: January 02, 2024, 11:26 AM