Abu Dhabi Crown Prince hails King Salman, sees stable UAE energy future

Speaking at the Government Sumit in Dubai Sheikh Mohamed opened his speech mourning the death of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.

Eman El-Shenawi
Eman El-Shenawi - Al Arabiya News
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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Monday hailed the newly enthroned Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, saying the new monarch had paved the way for a new Saudi generation.

Speaking at the Government Sumit in Dubai - an annual meet focusing on how governments can handle a changing world - Sheikh Mohamed opened his speech mourning the death of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.

He said: “Congratulations to Saudi Arabia on the reign of the proven King Salman. Saudi Arabia is in trusted hands.”

Saudi’s King Abdullah died last month after a short illness, and was succeeded by King Salman, who has since unveiled a cabinet reshuffle, making high-level royal appointments.

Sheikh Mohamed also projected upbeat UAE sentiment on future energy resources. He proposed a scenario in which the oil-rich UAE ran out of natural resources in 50 years, but said despite current and previous oil price drops “the ship is still sailing.”

“The UAE enjoys a versatile and strong economy that can face challenges,” he said, before discussing the Gulf state’s investments in clean energy and nuclear power.

The UAE is the first Gulf state to start building a nuclear power plant to generate energy. Soaring energy use and inadequate gas supplies have encouraged the Emirates to look to nuclear power to diversify its energy resources.

“We are assessing the future, when in next 50 years natural resources run out,” Sheikh Mohamed said adding: “2017 will see the opening of the UAE’s first nuclear energy plant and we invite all to come ... Also, once complete, our future investment in clean energy will provide 25 percent of our power needs.”

As another indicator of the country’s economic clout, the Crown Prince announced that the UAE had successfully created the second largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, with the volume of syndicated assets reaching $975 billion by the end of last April.

Sheikh Mohamed went on to stress the value of women in the UAE workforce and society.

“The role of women in UAE is very important; women are skillful and represent 50 percent of the total population,” he said, later adding a specific company reference to the female workforce in the manufacturing industry.

“Emirati women constitute 83 percent of the workforce at Strata where we manufacture Airbus, Boeing aircraft components ... As an Emirati, I'm proud of Emirati women,” the Crown Prince added.

With an “innovative” focus on how governments can handle a changing world, a total of 87 countries will be participating in this year’s Government Summit.

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon and Queen Rania of Jordan are among more than 100 international speakers at the three-day event running from Feb. 9 to 11.

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