Saudi Arabia Declares City Will Research Nuclear Energy

“The peaceful use of nuclear energy will enable the state to meet the requirements of society through proper planning,”

 - By April Murelio -

Saudi Arabia has announced the establishment of the King Abdullah Nuclear and Renewable Energy City in Riyadh and has declared that it will use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in industry, agriculture, mining, desalination, and the medical field.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued a royal order establishing 'King Abdullah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energy' in accordance with its law.

'Regulatory procedures shall be taken to review relevant regulations affected by the provisions of this law', the royal order said.

The royal decree issued by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah said development of atomic energy is essential to meet the Kingdom’s growing requirements for energy to generate electricity, produce desalinated water and reduce reliance on depleting hydrocarbon resources.

“The peaceful use of nuclear energy will enable the state to meet the requirements of society through proper planning,” an official statement said. It said the new city would serve as a scientific and specialized authority to draft and implement national policies relating to nuclear and renewable energy, and revise related regulations. The city was established on the recommendation of a ministerial committee chaired by Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal.

The royal decree said nuclear and renewable energies would ensure continued supplies of drinking water and electricity to its growing population and save hydrocarbon resources such as petroleum and gas for use by future generations, thus making them a source of income for a longer period.  Electricity power demand in the Kingdom grew by eight percent last year and is expected to grow more than 60,000 megawatt by 2020.

A supreme council chaired by King Abdullah (prime minister) has been set up to supervise the city. Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, is the deputy chairman of the council. Second Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Prince Naif is a member of the 13-member council. Other members of the top decision-making body are the ministers of foreign affairs, higher education, petroleum and mineral resources, finance, commerce and industry, water and electricity, agriculture and health, the chief of general intelligence, State Minister Musaed Al-Aiban, the president of the city, and Muhammad Al-Suwaiyel.

Hashim bin Abdullah Yamani, former minister of commerce and industry, has been appointed president of the city while the present rector of Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah, Walid bin Hussein Abulfaraj, has been appointed vice president. Both have been given the rank of a minister. Khaled bin Muhammad Al-Suleiman is another vice president.

The city will be an independent organization and will represent the Kingdom at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  The city will encourage the private sector to develop research material on medical, agricultural, industrial and mineral products, generate electricity and produce desalinated water using atomic energy.  It will also work to enhance the capabilities of the national cadre in the field.

 “The city will be exempted from all taxes and tariffs on its machinery and equipment that it imports for its scientific activities,” it said.

According to the city’s bylaw, which has 17 articles, the supreme council’s endorsement is a must for implementing its policies and projects. The city will be responsible for all commercial use of nuclear power and the handling of radioactive waste.

Article Three of the Bylaw said the city would contribute to achieving sustained development of the Kingdom through the use of nuclear science and technology and related industries. “It will also improve the standard and quality of living in the country,” it said, adding that the city would support research, scientific development and the acquiring of nuclear technology.

All departments related to nuclear and renewable energy at King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology will be shifted to the new city including its staff and properties within a year. The president of the city will be its chief executive officer, the law said, adding that the city will have an independent budget.

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