New law sets UAE's nuclear age in motion



The federal Government yesterday issued a law that will form the legal cornerstone of the country's civilian nuclear programme. Significantly, the law affirms the UAE's place as the first nation to ban uranium enrichment, the process by which the metal can be made not only into nuclear fuel but also into an atom bomb.

Instead, officials said the UAE will import its nuclear fuel. The law, approved by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, also puts strict controls on the handling of nuclear material and sanctions the creation of a nuclear safety regulator with what is unprecedented independence for the UAE from industry influence. "The Government of the UAE has made a commitment in its nuclear energy law to forgo domestic enrichment and reprocessing of nuclear materials," said Hamad al Kaabi, the UAE's permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"The UAE believes that it can achieve the necessary degree of fuel security through reliance upon the mature and diverse international fuel services market without resort to domestic enrichment or reprocessing." The law is the final legal hurdle before the government-owned Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) awards an estimated US$41 billion (Dh150.4bn) contract this month for the construction of a number of nuclear reactors expected to generate up to a third of the country's electricity.

In part to convince the international community that the UAE's programme is solely for peaceful applications, the law codifies a pledge by the Government to give up its right under international law to enrich uranium. Uranium enrichment has been at the root of tensions between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear programme. Iran says its nuclear programme is intended for civilian purposes, while Washington and European leaders are concerned it is developing a weapons programme. Ahmed al Mazroui, the new chairman of the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, which has been under formation for the past year, said the Government was committed to public safety and high environmental standards for nuclear technology, whether it was used for power generation, medicine or other industries. "We fully understand the unrivalled importance of safety with regard to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy," he said. In the interest of public safety, the new regulatory body would have unparalleled independence. Members of the board and their families would be prohibited from having ties to any part of the nuclear business - from construction to shipment of raw materials - to prevent a conflict of interest in setting safety standards, government officials said. "Under the law, members of the board of management enjoy significant legal protections designed to prevent any conflicts of interest with their role as regulators, as well as to preserve their independence in making regulatory or licensing decisions," the Government said in a statement. The members of the board have set terms, and will be protected from dismissal if, for example, they shut a reactor or ask for more information from contractors. The creation of a strong, independent regulator is a mainstay of nuclear programmes across the world, as a safeguard against shoddy construction or operation. Bill Travers, the director general of the federal authority, was formerly executive director for operations at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the US. The UAE regulator had been quietly growing since Dr Travers' arrival more than a year ago and now had 45 employees, he said. Once Enec chooses a reactor design, it will apply for a construction licence from the regulator, which will certify that it is fit for operation in the UAE. The regulator would probably demand changes to the design, depending on the characteristics of the site where ENEC chose to build the reactors, Dr Travers said. The regulator was in talks with government bodies in each of the four countries under consideration to supply the UAE's reactors, he said. "Each of the technologies that are being considered has already been licensed in the country of origin," Dr Travers said. The list of firms bidding for the nuclear contract is confidential, but industry sources have said it includes a French consortium and groups of companies from South Korea and Japan, which each count US firms as minority members. Once construction is complete, the regulator would award a second licence to allow the reactor to begin operations, Dr Travers said. cstanton@thenational.ae

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo

Power: 178hp at 5,500rpm

Torque: 280Nm at 1,350-4,200rpm

Transmission: seven-speed dual-clutch auto

Price: from Dh209,000 

On sale: now

The specs

Engine: four-litre V6 and 3.5-litre V6 twin-turbo

Transmission: six-speed and 10-speed

Power: 271 and 409 horsepower

Torque: 385 and 650Nm

Price: from Dh229,900 to Dh355,000

LOVE AGAIN

Director: Jim Strouse

Stars: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Sam Heughan, Celine Dion

Rating: 2/5

At a glance

- 20,000 new jobs for Emiratis over three years

- Dh300 million set aside to train 18,000 jobseekers in new skills

- Managerial jobs in government restricted to Emiratis

- Emiratis to get priority for 160 types of job in private sector

- Portion of VAT revenues will fund more graduate programmes

- 8,000 Emirati graduates to do 6-12 month replacements in public or private sector on a Dh10,000 monthly wage - 40 per cent of which will be paid by government

Profile of MoneyFellows

Founder: Ahmed Wadi

Launched: 2016

Employees: 76

Financing stage: Series A ($4 million)

Investors: Partech, Sawari Ventures, 500 Startups, Dubai Angel Investors, Phoenician Fund

RESULT

Fifth ODI, at Headingley

England 351/9
Pakistan 297
England win by 54 runs (win series 4-0)

TWISTERS

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Glenn Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Anthony Ramos

Rating: 2.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Dolittle

Director: Stephen Gaghan

Stars: Robert Downey Jr, Michael Sheen

One-and-a-half out of five stars

THE BIO: Martin Van Almsick

Hometown: Cologne, Germany

Family: Wife Hanan Ahmed and their three children, Marrah (23), Tibijan (19), Amon (13)

Favourite dessert: Umm Ali with dark camel milk chocolate flakes

Favourite hobby: Football

Breakfast routine: a tall glass of camel milk

About Takalam

Date started: early 2020

Founders: Khawla Hammad and Inas Abu Shashieh

Based: Abu Dhabi

Sector: HealthTech and wellness

Number of staff: 4

Funding to date: Bootstrapped

Profile box

Company name: baraka
Started: July 2020
Founders: Feras Jalbout and Kunal Taneja
Based: Dubai and Bahrain
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $150,000
Current staff: 12
Stage: Pre-seed capital raising of $1 million
Investors: Class 5 Global, FJ Labs, IMO Ventures, The Community Fund, VentureSouq, Fox Ventures, Dr Abdulla Elyas (private investment)

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

If you go

The flights

There are direct flights from Dubai to Sofia with FlyDubai (www.flydubai.com) and Wizz Air (www.wizzair.com), from Dh1,164 and Dh822 return including taxes, respectively.

The trip

Plovdiv is 150km from Sofia, with an hourly bus service taking around 2 hours and costing $16 (Dh58). The Rhodopes can be reached from Sofia in between 2-4hours.

The trip was organised by Bulguides (www.bulguides.com), which organises guided trips throughout Bulgaria. Guiding, accommodation, food and transfers from Plovdiv to the mountains and back costs around 170 USD for a four-day, three-night trip.


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