United Arab Emirates Energy and Environment Facts

Natural resources, energy and environment

Oil is the most important natural resource, but natural gas is also extracted to a great extent. Abu Dhabi has over 90 percent of the country’s oil reserves and accounts for an equal share of oil production. The rest of the oil is mainly in Dubai with a small share in Sharja.

The four emirates that have the most oil are responsible for their own energy production, which almost entirely takes place in oil or gas-fired power plants.

  • COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by United Arab Emirates with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.

The United Arab Emirates is about to become the first country in the Arab world to produce nuclear power. After several years of delay, the first of four planned nuclear reactors received a license to be commissioned in February 2020, although the start date was not specified. The other three reactors are under construction. When all four reactors are put into operation, the power plant is estimated to cover a quarter of the emirate’s electricity needs. The facility is located near the Saudi border and closer to Qatar’s capital than the emirate’s own, Abu Dhabi. But it is above all the proximity to Iran, on the other side of the Persian Gulf, and the often frosty relations between the countries that are seen as a risk factor (see Calendar).

There are also major investments in renewable energy; the world’s largest solar power plant was inaugurated in Abu Dhabi in 2013 and Masdar City, a city completely free of carbon dioxide emissions, is being built.

In the summer of 2012, a new oil pipeline was opened from the western part of the country to the port city of Fujayra in the east. As a result, oil from fields in the west no longer needed to be transported by boat through the narrow Strait of Hormuz, which Iran sometimes threatened to block (see also Foreign Policy and Defense).

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The emirate also has deposits of copper, magnesium and manganese, but the only extraction that takes place is marble and sand.

In 2018, the emirate passed a federal law on waste management, which sets, among other things, the goals that waste volumes should be reduced and recycling and composting encouraged. According to Gulf News, each emirate generates up to 1.3 kilos of waste per day and more than three-quarters end up in landfills. One consequence of the new law is that for the first time, public systems for waste collection will be introduced with transport to prescribed facilities within the state. Penalties have been imposed for littering.

In several of the emirates there are plants that generate environmentally hazardous emissions, including cement factories, chemical plants and manure production.

There are oil spills that damage fishing and bird and outdoor life along the beaches. Many of the emissions from tankers are assumed to be intentional when ship crews empty ballast tanks, and the sources are difficult to detect due to dense vessel traffic and ocean currents.


Energy use per person

7,756 kilograms of oil equivalent (2014)

Electricity consumption per person

11245 kWh, kWh (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions in total

211 370 thousand tonnes (2014)

Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant

23.3 tonnes (2014)

The share of energy from renewable sources

0.1 percent (2015)



Criticism against the government is prohibited

Following protests in neighboring Bahrain, a law banning criticism of the country’s government, or attempts to organize popular protests, is introduced via the internet and social media.

Military cooperation with the United Kingdom

In connection with British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to the United Arab Emirates, the countries are announcing that they will start military cooperation.


New onshore oil pipeline

The United Arab Emirates is starting to use a new oil pipeline that runs across the country and thus gets a new channel for its oil exports. The aim is to avoid running the oil with ships through the Hormuz Strait, which Iran has repeatedly threatened to shut down.


House arrest for a member of the governing family

A member of the ruling family of the emirate Ras al-Khayma is being arrested after calling for greater political transparency.

Democratic activist is forced into exile

One of the democracy activists pardoned by President Khalifa in November 2011, Ahmad Abd al-Khaliq, is arrested again. Khaliq, who belongs to a group of stateless Arabs (bidun), is forced to go into exile in Thailand. Khaliq is known for running a website in support of stateless guest workers in the states around the Persian Gulf.


The ambassador to Iran is recalled

The United Arab Emirates retrieves its ambassador to Tehran after Iran’s president visits Abu Musa, an island in the Persian Gulf that both countries claim.

United Arab Emirates Energy and Environment Facts

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