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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - ABU DHABI: Mubadala’s early investment in renewables was a contradiction given the UAE’s major role in the global oil industry, but it was consistent with the country’s energy-sector strategy.
Khaldoon Khalifa Al-Mubarak, group CEO and managing director of Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company, made this observation during Tuesday’s opening session of the Milken Institute’s 2020 Middle East and Africa Summit in Abu Dhabi.
Since its establishment, Mubadala had been envisioned as a model investment institution and the ideal example of a responsible investor, he said.
“Many thought (the investment in renewable energy) was a strange decision then, but it was a very consistent strategy of the UAE government,” he said.
Further proof of the UAE’s commitment to renewable energy and its development, according to Al-Mubarak, came when it ratified in 2009 an agreement to host the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
IRENA, whose membership includes 160 states and the EU, is an intergovernmental organization that facilitates cooperation and promotes the use of renewable energy.
“The UAE has over 80 percent of the solar capacity of the entire GCC, and we have invested in renewable energy in 25 countries,” Al-Mubarak said, adding that “we have done it profitably and responsibly.”
And Al-Mubarak said the UAE’s first nuclear-power plant was ready for launch any time soon.
“We are ready in the (coming) weeks to fuel the first unit of Barakah, one of the UAE’s most complicated infrastructure projects and the fastest nuclear development,” he said.
The Barakah plant will add 5.6 gigawatts (GW) of capacity to the national grid, or about 25 percent of the UAE’s total requirements, when fully operational.
Building the Barakah plant was a long-term sustainability decision, taken at a time when countries were moving away from nuclear energy, Al-Mubarak said.
The UAE intends to spend about AED 600 billion (SR612.66 billion) by 2050 to meet its clean energy needs.
Aside from renewables, Mubadala has significantly increased its investments in medical technology and life sciences, Al-Mubarak said.
“It is clearly happening in Europe, in China. We are investing in a space that is possible, in solving global problems,” he said.
One of these investments, Mubarak said, is the new oncology center at Abu Dhabi’s Cleveland Clinic, which will be operational in 12 to 18 months and would address the rising cancer rates in the UAE.
“There are 5,000 cancer new cases every year, he said.
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