Al Qasimi is also president of Zayed University and is currently the UAE’s minister of state for tolerance. She became the first woman in the UAE to hold a ministerial position in 2004 when she was appointed as minister of economy, and has since served as minister of foreign trade and minister of international cooperation and development.
“Here in the UAE, we strongly believe in the equality of men and women, both in society and in professional development,” Al Qasimi said. “From the very beginning of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme, we emphasised strongly the need to bring more women into the nuclear industry and into what is generally considered a male-dominated sector around the world,” she added.
Al Qasimi said she was proud that the efforts of Enec and its subsidiaries to inspire women to join had produced positive results. “Today, 23% of professionals working at Enec are women. At the Barakah nuclear energy plant, approximately 10% of employees are female. This is a significant achievement and we will continue to support all women who want to join the sector,” Al Qasimi said.
The Sheikha said the UAE’s nuclear energy programme, in which over 40 nationalities are involved, was one of the most diverse and perhaps the most multinational and multicultural in the world. “We celebrate this diversity and continue to promote understanding, diversity and acceptance,” she said.
Al Qasimi also participated in “Youth Circle”, a parallel event to the ministerial conference, where she stressed the crucial role of young people in ensuring the sustainability of growth and development in various sectors including nuclear energy.
At the same event, the UAE Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Hamad Alkaabi, highlighted the importance of developing human capital and nurturing young professionals to ensure the sustainability of peaceful nuclear energy. This, he said, required programmes and initiatives at both the national and international level with organisations around the world collaborating to ensure the exchange of best practices.
Four Korean-designed APR-1400 pressurised water reactors are being built for Enec at Barakah by a consortium led by the Korean Electric Power Company (Kepco), with the first two units expected to start up next year. Units 3 and 4 are expected to start up in 2019 and 2020. When complete, the power station will deliver up to a quarter of the UAE’s electricity. The plants will be operated by Nawah Energy Company, a subsidiary of Enec which is partly owned by Kepco.