ABU DHABI // Timothy Geithner, the US Treasury secretary, was thanked yesterday for the part his country played in helping Abu Dhabi's winning bid to host the International Renewable Agency (Irena), which, he said, would become "a global example of innovation". On a one-day trip to the capital, Mr Geithner - the most senior US official to visit the UAE since Abu Dhabi won the contest on June 29 - met Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the Minister of Foreign Trade.
Sources said the UAE's "gratitude" was expressed over the role US officials played in the final hours preceding a vote on the headquarters, when they helped to achieve a "face-saving formula" by which two European rivals, Bonn and Vienna, withdrew from the contest. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister, had said the last-minute withdrawals of the German and Austrian cities stemmed from a "desire for accord" at the summit of Irena's 136 members in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh.
The US had officially joined Irena on the day of the vote, and from the onset officials from its Department of State voiced their support of the UAE. On Tuesday, in a speech to the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce, Mr Geithner lauded the UAE's investments into new sources of energy. "In a few years, the world will see its first zero-carbon, zero-waste city, located in the UAE, fully powered by renewable energy," he said, referring to the Masdar City development.
"It will be home to the recently formed International Renewable Energy Agency and will serve as a global example of innovation." The agency will be housed in temporary buildings in the capital for two and a half years until its headquarters in Masdar City is complete. Officials have said it will be the first "energy positive" office building, which will have rooftop solar panels that produce more electricity than it consumes.