At The Mobility Conference in Abu Dhabi, UAE — a collaboration between Global EVRT, CleanTechnica, and Masdar — CleanTechnica Director Zach Shahan interviewed UAE Minister of Energy and Industry Suhail Mohamed Faraj Al Mazrouei about the future of transport and the UAE’s leadership in e-mobility and renewable energy.
Minister Mazroue is refreshing — especially refreshing compared to less progressive leaders who want to take the world backward rather than forward. Minister Mazroue’s past is in oil, and much of the country’s cash has come from oil, yet he and the United Arab Emirates are open to change and are aiming to be at the forefront of zero-emissions electric transport. If only we found this quiet, intelligent response to todays challenges and opportunities from our present US government.
Many of us concerned with environmental wellness wish our policymakers were more eager to give broader transportation choice to consumers. Minister Mazroue communicates that people should have optionality and diverse transit choices available at their convenience, and that includes more electric options. I like this man. He repeats himself, making his point clearly and powerfully as he communicates not only to CleanTechnica but to a broad array of local press behind us about why it is intelligent and respectful to bring more automotive diversity to the market.
Zachary Shahan in not surprised with the progressive stance, being familiar with the country as a longtime participant of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. Leading a bit, Zach asks, “How is the EV leadership driven within the leadership of Abu Dhabi and the UAE?”
The minister responds that in the UAE they want to keep up with the option of electromobility for everyone. “The whole world is changing. This technology is getting pace in every city — or large cities — in the world. What we want to do here in the United Arab Emirates is to provide everyone who comes here, whether a visitor or a citizen, with optionality and having the option to drive an electric vehicle. So they have with the convenience of electricity storage points as part of the EV infrastructure that we provide. As you can see today, the number of charging points since we started is increasing. This is part of the package that UAE can provide to tourists and to those living here. … We want to change with the world.”
Zach points out that not only is the United Arab Emirates changing, but the country is actually leading in many ways as first adopters and innovators. “You have 200 Teslas for taxi service among the early adopters,” he notes. The UAE is one of the first countries to have so many electric taxis.
The Minister agrees. “Providing the optionality is one way in which we are open. If you want to drive an electric vehicle, it should not be so difficult because there is no charging station. Second, now there is a competition on the overall cost of maintenance and of fuel. So, the customers can make their choices based on the overall costs and the competition. And I think so people will choose conventionally and some people will choose EV. But the optionality should be always there. Some people will have the charging points at their homes, but there should also be charging points at the mall, the hotels.”
Has he made his point?
Other points touched on: “Gradually, subsidy will come. People will come and make choices. Autonomous driving is associated with EVs. We like to prepare ourselves for that.” He suggests that when fully autonomous vehicles are developed and refined, the country will have EV taxis that they can switch to autonomous taxis. Again, the Minister defines a willingness for progress.
The high standard of progressive leadership is not new in the UAE. In an earlier CleanTechnica story, we highlighted an exclusive scoop we got about “Tesla opening stores in the UAE,” nearly a first in the Middle East. Zach remarked, “Frankly, I think it’s hard to find the level of long-term planning and leadership (whether in government or business) that UAE’s top brass has shown. Masdar — a multi-billion-dollar cleantech company that integrates research & innovation (Masdar Institute of Science and Technology), investment (Masdar Capital), clean energy development (Masdar Clean Energy), and a physical center to convene cleantech leaders and stimulate cleantech progress (Masdar City) — was founded in 2006. That’s 2006, not 2016.”
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