Helal al Khafili has a wealth of engineering experience, despite his young age.
From Abu Dhabi's gas turbines to the engines of the Dubai Metro, Mr al Khafili, 28, has solved many technical issues involving core infrastructure projects.
Now he has joined the UAE's effort to launch a nuclear industry from scratch.
"It's going to concern our lives in UAE," says Mr al Khafili, a regulation specialist at the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), the independent UAE watchdog.
"After you have a nuclear industry in your country a lot of laws change … I want to be involved in this process."
Abu Dhabi is pressing ahead with a US$20 billion (Dh73.45bn) plan to become the first Arab nation to produce nuclear energy.
It has the money, the technology and international support. Now it must find the people - and on a tight deadline, with the first two reactors scheduled to come online by 2017.
That schedule is realistic, says Monira al Kuttab, the director of government and international affairs at FANR.
"Look outside," says Ms al Kuttub, an Emirati who previously worked at the UAE embassy in Washington. "This is a country that is 39 years old and look what we've achieved. This is another chance to achieve something at a pace that we're used to."
But finding the right people will be an even more challenging task, especially with Abu Dhabi's ambitious emiratisation goals and a global skills shortage in the nuclear industry.
The lack of experienced nuclear operators worldwide stems from a slowdown in the development of nuclear power that followed two disasters: Three Mile Island in the US in 1979; and Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986.
These events prompted many governments to shift their focus away from atomic energy.
FANR will need to expand its human resources, as will Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec), the company charged with building and operating Abu Dhabi's four planned reactors 300km from the capital at Braka, in the Western Region.
FANR and Enec will need to recruit more than 2,100 employees, many with specialised knowledge in engineering, security and radiation.
They hope for about 60 per cent of those hirings to be Emirati, not only creating more jobs for nationals but also maintaining the security of a critical field.
Half of the employees at FANR and Enec are nationals, but that includes departments shifted from other government bodies, such as the team of radiation specialists who were relocated to FANR from the Federal Environment Agency.
FANR, which has hired expatriates from other countries' nuclear regulators to build up the young agency, has 120 people on staff and hopes to expand to 200 in the next two to three years.
"We define exactly what positions we want, we decide which are national and which are expatriate," says Muhra al Ali, the acting deputy director general for administration of FANR. "We will always have this mix between nationals and expatriates."
While 65 per cent of employees in the administrative and government relations arms are Emirati, that figure drops to 35 per cent in technical units such as radiation safety and nuclear security.
Enec and FANR have recruited skilled workers from other government employers, such as sovereign wealth funds or the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, hiring employees such as Mr al Khafili who have engineering skills but no nuclear expertise.
Such employees are considered "developmental" hirings, immediately sent to nuclear-certification programmes in the UK or training stints in South Korea. Of the 120 employees at FANR, about one sixth are in training, says Ms al Ali.
"What we aim for is to fast-track nationals as fast as possible to the specialist level," she says.
For Mr al Khafili, that development means a course on nuclear management from US professors in Abu Dhabi and a placement this year at the US nuclear regulator's headquarters to gain experience in policy-making and government affairs.
As part of the secondment he will spend two months in Atlanta visiting nuclear plants for first-hand knowledge of how a reactor operates.
"Our number in the country is quite small and the number in the technical and the skilled workers is smaller," Mr al Khafili says.
"I'm going to do the whole process there. I'm going to learn."