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Oil-rich UAE opens the Arab world's first nuclear power plant. Experts question why

  • Unit 1 of the Barakah plant in the Al Dhafrah region of Abu Dhabi started producing heat on Saturday, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation said in a statement.
  • The corporation said the construction of Unit 2 has finished recently, while the other two reactors are still being built -- even though the original schedule called for the plant to become operational by 2017.
  • Once completed, the four reactors, which are using South Korean technology, should produce 5.6 gigawatts of electricity and supply up to 25% of the UAE's electricity needs, the corporation said.
  • The new plant is part of the UAE's plan to become less reliant on oil and gas, the current source of the vast majority of its energy.
  • However, some experts have questioned the need for the nuclear power plant given the country's potential to develop solar energy and the tensions surrounding nuclear power in the Middle East.

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