ABU DHABI // Alternative energy will be Al Gharbia's focus over the next few years.
With Shams 1 going live and the Baraka nuclear plant on the horizon, the region is trying to lead by example in hopes that the rest of the country will embrace alternative energy.
"I'm very proud and grateful that we contributed to this milestone in our country's history," says Mohammed Hamad bin Azzan Al Mazrouei, Secretary General of the Ruler's Representative in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi and Director General of the Western Region Development Council. "The benefits of this solar plant will be long-term benefits. The longer we operate Shams 1, the more we will see the positive effects it has."
Though the region is currently heavily dependent on the oil and gas industry for employment, the Government is trying to get the future workforce to look at other forms of energy.
"We are trying to encourage high school students to look at renewable energy as a possible major in college. We are pushing to make this the new field of employment for residents of the region," said Mr Al Mazrouei.
Shams 1 and other projects will tap into the region's workforce. "I met a couple of residents who work at Shams 1, plans are set to incorporate more local employment and the recruitment process is on going." He added that he did not have any figures of how many were currently employed.
"This is a very interesting project and a radical change for many people. People here are more traditional than those you meet in the cities. But they all have a very positive outlook on this project which is happening in their backyard."
This is just one of many developments expected in the region over the next 10 to 15 years. "The main pillar of the Al Gharbia 2030 programme is to develop while trying to keep parts unchanged.
"We want our children to experience things just as our fathers did. We want to keep that old way of living alive here.
"And we welcome people to come here, on business or pleasure, explore the region and experience the essence of life here."