Transparency is key to the United Arab Emirates’ program to build its first nuclear power plant, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation chief Mohamed Al Hammadi told the World Nuclear Association’s 2014 Annual Symposium.

The first of two units under construction by ENEC’s partner the Korea Electric Power Company at Barakah is now 55% complete, and is expected to be up and running in 2017. Ultimately, four units are planned for the site. The UAE is working in earnest to ensure its emergence as a nuclear-powered country is achieved while observing a set of key principles including transparency, non-proliferation, safety and security and sustainability, Al Hammadi said.

Describing Barakah as a “mega project”, Al Hammadi said that his company’s first priority remained bringing the first unit to operation with a focus on safety and security, and “getting the job done to the highest standards”.

Investment in the future workforce to ensure that the UAE program can continue to fulfil those aims has seen ENEC develop a cadre of 1200 highly-qualified employees, while the company’s Energy Pioneers program aims to develop the workforce that will provide the operations and maintenance functions at the plant.

ENEC’s commitment to transparency sees the company undertake regular public outreach events where attendance can be as high as 600. Annual polling over recent years has shown that public acceptance of nuclear in the UAE typically runs at around 67–68%.

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