UAE has become the first developing country to host the office of a major international organisation with Abu Dhabi being the home to the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
The Irena headquarters will be located in Masdar City Abu Dhabi, which is currently under construction. Masdar City will be the world’s first carbon-neutral, a city that will have zero waste, completely powered by renewable energy.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, congratulated President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the country.
Germany and Austria withdrew their bids after realising an overwhelming majority of nations was going to vote for the UAE.
Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, thanked the countries that extended their support for the UAE. He particularly appreciated the stance of Germany and Austria, which supported the UAE’s quest to host the headquarters.
“The contest was strong, but it was fair and transparent,” he said.
The meetings are continuing on Tuesday to choose the agency’s director general. For this position, candidates from France, Spain, Denmark and Greece are competing.
While Irena’s headquarters will be in the UAE, the former West German capital Bonn will host the organisation’s “innovations branch” and Vienna will host Irena’s office for liaison with the UN and other international energy organisations, the German Ministry of Environment announced.
The agency – established in Bonn last January 26 – hopes to be the body that will oversee and help contribute to a global transition to what is seen as the next generation of energy.
Irena’s mandate will come from its 129 member countries, and it is expected to help industrialised and developing countries in improving their regulatory frameworks and build capacity for renewable energy.
Shaikh Abdullah said the UAE Government is committed to provide total support to the agency so Irena can carry out its mandate in offering support to all renewable energy applications to help states benefit from this effective development and the transfer and exchange of expertise, technology and knowledge.
Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar, said the UAE delegation met the executive committee of the headquarters and discussed the overwhelming number of votes they might be getting.
The UAE delegation suggested the competing states withdraw. The committee discussed the matter with Germany and Austria, which agreed to pull out.
With inputs from WAM and DPA
Global centre: new industry
A home for Irena in the UAE could lead the country to become the centre of a future renewable energy industry and expertise. If the work of Irena goes according to plan, new technologies and research in the field of renewable energy would be coming out of Abu Dhabi. When more states decide to make the transition away from fossil fuels and to renewable energy, Abu Dhabi could become the global centre for all issues related to the field. Irena could also bring to the UAE a new industry which will be accompanied by an influx of energy experts, students, supporting industries and jobs.
The agency’s presence in the UAE could also bring environmental awareness to the region, which has the world’s biggest per capita emissions of CO2. Expertise on renewable energy can be shared with neighbouring countries and lead to a possible reduction in pollution. The presence of Irena could also mean that the UAE would not lose its place as a major energy exporter when the fossil fuel era is over and replaced by a time of renewable energy reliance, as the country could eventually export renewable energy.
Reacting to the decision, Razan Al Mubarak, Managing Director of Emirates Wildlife Society, in association with the World Wide Find for Nature (EWS-WWF), said: “We are pleased to learn that Abu Dhabi was selected to host the Irena headquarters. The decision shows a clear recognition of the increasingly important role being played by emerging economies in the climate change and clean technology debate.”
Thom D. Bohlen, AIA, LEED AP, Chief Technical Officer, Middle East Centre for Sustainable Development, said that the win will make the UAE the hub of development for future renewable technologies. “This is a monumental feat for Abu Dhabi and the UAE. It is a watershed event for the Country to become the hub for the development of future renewable technologies and their implementation across the world in a concerted effort to mitigate the effects of climate change,” he said.
Gulf News readers were also ecstatic at the outcome in Sharm Al Shaikh. Saleh Hamed, an Emirati IT professional, said: “I am happy … but I don’t like the fact that there was so much competition… Having an international agency based here will stimulate research, development, increase employment and benefit us immensely.”
Asma Abu Baker, an Emirati student, said: “It is a step forward for the world. We need to include the rest of the world, including the Middle East, to help in solving global problems.”
Nazeer Kunchali, who sent an online comment, wrote: “It would be wonderful … Irena’s headquarters are going to be in the UAE.”
Irena’s home in Abu Dhabi would allow the UAE to become the centre of a future renewable energy industry and expertise. If the work of Irena goes according to plan, new technologies and research in the field of renewable energy would be coming out of Abu Dhabi. When more states decide to make the transition away from fossil fuels and to renewable energy, Abu Dhabi could become the global centre for all things related to the field.
Irena would also bring to the UAE a new industry which will be accompanied by an influx of energy experts, students, supporting industries and jobs. Renewal energy projects in Germany, for example, have brought 300,000 jobs since 2002, and started thriving industries.
The agency’s presence in the UAE would also bring environmental awareness in the region, which has the world’s biggest per capita emissions of CO2. Expertise on renewable energy will be shared with neighbouring countries and lead to a possible reduction in pollution.
The winning bid also means that the UAE will retain its place as a major energy exporter when the fossil fuel era is over and replaced by a time of renewable energy reliance, as the country could eventually export renewable energy.
United Arab Emirates: Quick facts
Area: Approximately 82,880 square kilometres
Population: 5,122,000 (as of March 2008)
Expatriate Population: 3,873,000 (2008 estimates)
Number of Nationalities: Approximately 200 nationalities in the UAE
Capital: Abu Dhabi
Emirates: There are seven (7) emirates namely – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah
GDP: Dh 729.73 billion (2007, current prices)
In 1968, United Kingdom announced its intention to withdraw from the Arabian Gulf by the end of 1971. After series of negotiations, agreement was reached between the six of the seven sheikhdoms in December 2, 1971, which formed the federation known as United Arab Emirates with Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan as the President. The seventh sheikhdom, Ras al Khaimah, joined the UAE in 1972