A scale model of the Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park being built in Dubai. One of the biggest solar energy projects in the region with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts by 2030, the park would make a substantial contribution to the UAE’s future energy needs. This is among a raft of initiatives adopted by the UAE to diversify energy resources by adopting clean and green energy solutions. Image Credit: Asghar Khan /Gulf News

Dubai: The UAE will play host to dozens of heads of state, scores of national energy ministers and hundreds of top leaders from the energy industry as it gears up to hold the World Energy Forum in Dubai next month to build a roadmap towards cleaner, safer and more sustainable energy that can benefit all nations and people.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, this will be the first time that this high-level international energy conference will be taking place outside the headquarters of the United Nations. Dubai was selected to host the event after fierce competition from other international venues and cities. More than 2,000 top delegates from around the world will participate in the three-day event that runs from October 22 to 24 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The forum is taking place at a time when authorities in the UAE and Dubai have taken major initiatives to diversify their energy resources by adopting clean and green energy solutions. The event will not only enhance the global awareness of Dubai’s Integrated Energy Strategy 2030, but will also provide a significant momentum to its various initiatives.

“In line with its 2021 Vision, the UAE has recently unveiled an ambitious initiative that lays the foundations for a green economy. This initiative underlines our country’s firm commitment to maintaining a sustainable environment while focusing on long-term economic growth. So join us in this call to action for the sustainable development of all nations of the world,” Shaikh Mohammad said in a message to delegates issued earlier.

With the United Nations designating 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, leaders from UN member states, international organisations and corporations participating at the forum will seek tangible progress towards cleaner, safer and more sustainable energy as well as achieving universal access to modern energy services.

“The United Nations recognizes that having access to sustainable energy is a paramount issue for all countries that are aspiring to economic and social development in order to improve the lives and destinies of their citizens. At this timely international gathering, world leaders and energy experts will come together and seek to find long-term energy solutions that will inevitably involve a variety of energy mixes as well as innovative technologies, but that will also require a clear vision, courage and political will to bring about the change in the world,” Dr Harold Hyun-Suk Oh, Chairman of World Energy Forum, said in a statement issued earlier.

The conference will ensure that the voices of the nations and peoples who are excluded or underrepresented must be heard so that they too can benefit from modern energy services. A renewed debate on nuclear energy in light of Japanese experience in recent times will also feature in discussions. Apart from a special session on the role of energy in solving global water crises, other sessions where delegates can share their experiences and best practices will focus on governmental policy issues and legal framework, and the link between national and international energy policies and consumption, and climate change.

Major impact on economy

The World Energy Forum 2012 is expected to have a major impact on Dubai’s economy, especially on the tourism sector, as more than 2,000 global leaders and delegates descend on the city next month.

Tourism already contributes 31 per cent to Dubai’s GDP, a senior Dubai Government official told Gulf News. “This event will increase the contribution of business tourism to our economy as we strengthen our position as a major global business hub,” Eyad Ali Abdul Rahman, Executive Director of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Dubai’s tourism promoter and regulator, said.

“Dubai is now rated among the top global conference hubs – with the likes of London, New York and Hong Kong. The successful hosting of the World Energy Forum will help Dubai gain in its bid for Expo 2020, that will set another benchmark for the emirate,” said Ghassan Aridi, Chief Executive of Alpha Tours,

Dubai - which successfully organised a large number of global events, including the Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund in 2003 that brought in 16,000 delegates and participants from 184 countries - is more than mature as a venue to host world-class events.

With more than 500 hotels hosting 85,000 rooms that collectively serve more than eight million tourists a year, Dubai’s large convention facilities along with eight exhibition halls provide the ideal platform for such events. According to industry officials, the forum will also will boost the meetings, incentives, convention and exhibition (MICE) segment, for which Dubai has become a regional hub.

“This high-profile event will help Dubai’s economy and raise the city’s international profile as a major conference destination,” said Michel Noblet, Managing Director of Hospitality Management Holdings, a UAE-based hotel operator that manages more than 30 hotels and resorts. “We expect hotel rates to go up during the event and this will help the tourism sector, including catering, transportation, restaurants and airlines,” he said.