UAE minister calls for Dhs 3.5bn cuts to energy spending

Residents told to stop ‘squandering’ water and electricity



People living in the United Arab Emirates need to reduce their energy consumption by 10 per cent to save the country Dhs 3.5bn, a government minister has said.

Energy minister Suhail Mohamed al Mazroui described the “squandering” of resources as the “enemy of development” and called on residents to cut their electricity and water usage.

The ministry says it currently spends Dhs 35bn on subsidies for fuel and water, though a report, published by the International Monetary Fund earlier this year, estimated that the actual pre-tax bill was around Dhs 46.4bn.

Overconsumption of air conditioning, which accounts for 60 per cent of a building’s energy, has been cited as a main reason for the high subsidies by Glada Lahn, a senior research fellow at Chatham House.

Al Mazroui told the UAE Economic Planning Forum in Ras Al Khaimah that the lower oil price makes generous discounts on already cheap commodities harder to afford.

He added that the government was looking to create a culture of responsible consumption in various government and private establishments, as well as in homes, schools and mosques.

Last week, Al Mazouri told the economic forum that the UAE was investing $35bn to diversify its energy mix and reduce its dependence on natural gas imports.

The country is to become the first Gulf Arab state to start building a nuclear energy plant. The $20bn Barakah project is expected to provide 24 per cent of the UAE’s energy by 2020.

The IMF has predicted the UAE will hit its first budget deficit since 2009 due to the loss of revenue from the lower prices.