What the UAE is doing to ensure water security


What the UAE is doing to ensure water security

The global race to innovate is gathering pace, and with a visionary leadership in place, the UAE is ahead of the curve.

By Alya Al Mazroui

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Published: Mon 16 May 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 16 May 2016, 9:58 AM

Innovation is the new driver of global economy. The world spent a staggering $1 trillion on research and development in 2010, in an effort to fuel economic growth through innovation.
The global race to innovate is gathering pace, and with a visionary leadership in place, the UAE is ahead of the curve. The UAE celebrated the 'Year of Innovation' in 2015, and, last November, the government reaffirmed its commitment to become a global hub for world-class scientific and technological advancement, when it announced the Emirates Science, Technology, and Innovation Higher Policy.
The Gulf nation is allocating significant resources to boost a national culture of scientific enquiry and knowledge acquisition. This innovation-focus has to be fostered throughout all areas of activity and national life. In keeping with the aims of the leadership's vision, a significant number of initiatives have been launched that highlight the immense promise of the country's intellectual and scientific capabilities.
Among the most promising of numerous world-class UAE initiatives is the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science. Launched by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs in early 2015, the program is an ambitious initiative by our leaders to ensure our pioneering rank among the most advanced nations. The program aims to advance the scientific and technological base of rain enhancement, where technology is used to stimulate and increase rainfall. With a total of US$5 million in annual grant, the program has attracted interest from researchers around the world, year after year.
Water is one of the seven key pillars of the UAE's innovation strategy. The nation's strategic decision to lead rain enhancement research will benefit both our local area and other water scarce regions around the world. As part of the National Innovation Strategy, we aim to position our country as a global leader in rain enhancement science and technology and build up the UAE's credentials as an international scientific leader and an innovation powerhouse.
Since its inception, the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science has engaged with leading water scientists and policymakers from around the world. At a World Meteorological Organization meeting in Geneva and the World Water Forum in Korea, the program displayed its leadership in front of a welcoming audience of experts and policymakers by speaking on the need to put rain enhancement back on the water security discourse.
In Thailand and Japan, and at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in the US, delegates from our program met with the current and the future generation of innovators in top government and university research institutions, to draw their attention to a field of science that has remained largely dormant for the past 60 years. These meetings overseas added greatly to the existing community of 398 scientists from 45 countries that had participated in the second cycle of the Program in 2016.
All these efforts are placing the UAE firmly on the map of water security issues, and we believe that the UAE will increasingly be seen as a globally recognized, responsible leader for its commitment to address water security. We will continue to work with the international scientific community to break new ground in dealing with the challenge of securing water stability for all of our future needs.
With this international impetus, the UAE Program for Rain Enhancement Science is building on a successful trend to help develop the local capacity needed to drive innovation to help secure our water supplies.
A key aim of the program is developing young UAE talent. By building cooperation between local and international experts, we can not only increase our understanding of rainfall enhancement, but also to build capacity for our young scientists and technologists to forge productive collaborations to further advance the field.
Also, by promoting research and development and nurturing international collaborations, we can help strengthen the whole spectrum of water resource management-from conservation to recycling, and to rainwater harvesting-and contribute to creating a world-class research cluster in our country.
Our program has already attracted considerable international interest, which will do much to strengthen local capacity and attract UAE youth to pursue a career in scientific research. As we are consolidating our position as a world leader in rain enhancement, one of our priorities going forward will be to establish a national cluster of excellence based on the excellent local talent at our disposal.
To this end, scientific programs like the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science proactively reach out to the budding innovators and provide them with a platform for innovation to help drive the quest to secure our future water supplies.
Through playing our part in facilitating scientific and intellectual advancement, the UAE is seeking to increasing the momentum of rain enhancement innovation and ensuring its application for the benefit of tomorrow's generation.
By meeting our goals, we can play our part in building a future full of promise and potential. In this way we can fully support our leadership's strategic vision of a vibrant knowledge economy build on the power of innovation.
The writer is the Manager of the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science

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