At first it might seem incongruous: seven teams from an oil-rich nation competing to design vehicles that use the least-possible fuel as part of a competition sponsored by a global petroleum company.
But the test run for the Shell Eco-marathon conducted at Yas Marina South Circuit on Monday night is anything but an anomaly. It’s an example of how the UAE is looking to the future, promoting innovation and investing in energy security.
The UAE has plentiful oil reserves, but it is not solely reliant on fossil fuels. It is also developing a nuclear power plant, which is expected to start contributing to the national grid by 2017, and the Shams 1 solar energy project, which will serve 20,000 homes when fully operational.
As The National reported yesterday, the Eco-marathon project – which will culminate in a race in Manila next year – involves students from five UAE universities. Young Emiratis are learning valuable engineering and design skills, and will get the chance to meet, compete and exchange ideas about energy efficiency with their peers from around the world.
When education meets a specific need such as this, it’s a sure sign that the nation is heading in the right direction.