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UAE starts up first nuclear power plant in the Arab world

Dubai's ruler says 'nothing is impossible' as UAE follows Iran to activate second nuclear power reactor in Middle East
A general view of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in the Gharbiya region of Abu Dhabi (AFP)

The UAE has announced the initiation of a nuclear power plant, the first of its kind in any Arab country.

The country's representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced the start-up of the Barakah nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

"UAE first nuclear reactor at the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant has achieved first criticality and successfully started up," tweeted Hamad Alkaabi.

"This is a historic milestone for the nation with a vision set to deliver a new form of clean energy for the nation."

The South Korean-built reactor's commercial operations are set to begin later this year, and will provide power to homes and business in the country, according to the National.

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The UAE originally announced its intent to pursue nuclear energy in 2008. It is only the second country in the Middle East to successfully do so, after Iran.

Mohammed bin Rashid, the ruler of Dubai and UAE vice president, congratulated Abu Dhabi's ruler, Mohamed bin Zayed, for the successful initiation of Unit 1 of the facility.

"The goal is to operate four nuclear power plants that will provide one quarter of the country's energy needs in a safe, reliable and emission-free way," he said on Twitter.

"The UAE split the atom, and wants to explore the galaxy. Our message to the world is that the Arabs are able to resume their scientific ambitions and compete with the rest of the great nations. Nothing is impossible."

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