The UAE Government is preparing to issue a tender for the construction of a second nuclear power plant, Reuters has reported.

The UAE became the first Arab state to operate a nuclear power plant with the opening of the Barakah facility in Abu Dhabi in 2021.

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The government is expected to seek bids in 2024–25 for constructing four new reactors.

The tender could be floated in the summer of 2024, with construction beginning as soon as possible so that the new plant can become operational by 2032.

The nuclear plant will satisfy the country’s projected energy requirements. The upcoming tender will be open to international bidders, including from the US, China and Russia.

Although South Korea built the Barakah plant, the sources noted that South Korean companies would not receive preferential treatment in the bidding process.

The UAE Government media office has not commented.

The selection of Russian or Chinese companies as potential bidders could raise geopolitical tensions, especially with the US, which has been trying to isolate Russia due to the conflict in Ukraine and is wary of the Gulf states’ growing relationship with China.

The UAE’s nuclear programme began in 2009 with a cooperation agreement with the US. It was declared to be peaceful and focused on reducing oil dependency.

The country is part of a global initiative to triple nuclear energy output by 2054, following its commitment at COP28, the UN’s December 2023 climate conference.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Egypt is constructing its first nuclear plant with Russian assistance and Saudi Arabia is exploring a civilian nuclear programme.

The Barakah plant will supply a quarter of the UAE’s electricity once its fourth reactor commences commercial operations in 2024.

Potential locations for the new nuclear facility include a coastal site near the Saudi border or an area close to the existing Barakah plant.

In April 2024, Reuters reported that the country is considering investments in nuclear infrastructure in Europe, including potential minority stakes in atomic power assets in Britain.