ABU DHABI //The UAE is "the one to watch" in the Middle East renewable energy race, according to Jordan's Queen Rania.
The monarch praised the country's leadership for implementing initiatives such as Masdar and the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.
She was speaking on the sidelines of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, which ran from January 13 to 17, and where she gave a speech on Tuesday.
"The UAE has proved to be a regional pioneer in realising the potential of renewable energy and in diversifying the energy mix beyond the dependency on oil and gas," Queen Rania said.
"The country's experience and expertise in the field is one to be emulated across the region."
Because of the abundance of fossil fuels in the Middle East, it is easy to forget the importance of decreasing our dependence on them, she said. But rising prices should serve as a reminder.
"We need to find innovative micro-solutions that can directly affect and benefit the individual."
Queen Rania pointed to a project in rural Jordan that uses decentralised photovoltaic units to provide energy for lighting and water pumping in remote villages.
"We still have people in our region who are not connected to national grids and without access to clean water or basic social services," she said. "These basic needs, if not met, will impede their chances and their opportunities for a prosperous future."
Queen Rania also spoke about the challenge of high youth unemployment in the Arab World and the post-2015 development goals.
A full transcript of the interview with Queen Rania is available at www.thenational.ae