UAE launches $5 mln push to increase rainfall

The UAE is one of the first countries in the Gulf to use cloud-seeding technology to increase rainfall

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The United Arab Emirates has launched a $5 million international grant to explore ways to increase rainfall to manage water scarcity in the country and other dry regions around the world.

According to the UAE National Center for Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS), it is one of the first countries in the Gulf to use cloud-seeding technology to increase rainfall.

This includes “sophisticated weather radar to monitor the atmosphere of the country around the clock,” and the distribution of salt particles at clouds level, according to NCMS.

The UAE's al-Roeya newspaper on Wednesday quoted Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of NCMS's Board of Trustees, as saying that the Gulf country would be focusing on finding innovative scientific solutions to overcome water scarcity.

"Securing a sustainable supply of water is one of the main challenges for which we are working to find effective solutions," Sheikh Mansour was quoted as saying.

The $5-million grant would fund research projects at home and abroad during a period of three years, senior officials said while launching this international program on Tuesday at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

Cloud-seeding is relevant in the UAE as it has an arid climate with less than 100mm per year of rainfall, a high evaporation rate of surface water, and a low groundwater recharge that is far less than the total annual water used in the country, said Dr Abdullah al-Mandoos, executive director at the NCMS and the UAE’s permanent representative to the World Meteorological Organization, Gulf News reported.

“Furthermore, the population increase and economic expansion will put additional pressure on existing water supplies and rainfall in the country. This program has been launched to address these concerns and to advance the development of sustainable approaches for providing water to arid and semi-arid regions across the globe,” Mandoos said.

“We are open to any technology or research that can produce more rain.”

Last year, the UAE launched a Water Aid campaign during the month of Ramadan in July, and aimed to provide drinking water to 5 million people during the holy fasting month.

It raised AED180 million ($49 million), exceeding its initial goal, local media reported. The funds collected benefitted 7 million people.