x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

1982: Lights in the desert took fishing village to energy hub

40 years of the UAE: Ruwais is home to an oil refinery, fertiliser factory and other integral parts of the hydrocarbon supply chain that has yielded wealth to Abu Dhabi and other emirates since its inauguration in 1982.

At night the lights and scattered gas flares of Ruwais glow in the dark desert sky, the only sign of life for kilometres on this stretch of the Western Region's coastline.

This industrial hub is home to an oil refinery, fertiliser factory and other integral parts of the hydrocarbon supply chain that has yielded wealth to Abu Dhabi and the other emirates since its inauguration in 1982.

Since Sheikh Zayed, the founding President, presided over that opening ceremony, the energy complex has also spurred the transformation of what was the isolated fishing village of Ruwais into a town with schools, a hospital and even a five-star beach resort. On a weekend night, performers at Danat's Dhafra Beach Hotel can be seen entertaining workers hailing from the Levant, Europe and Asia.

Ruwais is soon to be a terminal for the nation's first railroad, linking the Shah gasfield farther inland to Ruwais's marine port. Sulphur separated from Shah's natural gas will be transported by railway - saving on transport costs and reducing the danger of an accident on the roads from sulphur-carrying lorries - to Ruwais, where it will be readied for shipment to international markets.

* April Yee