The United Arab Emirates has begun operations at the Arab world's first nuclear power plant, reported leader of Abu Dhabi, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in a tweet.
"We proudly witness the start of Barakah nuclear power plant operations, in alignment with the highest international safety standards. Congratulations on realizing this historic achievement in the energy sector & marking this milestone in the roadmap for sustainable development," wrote the prince.
The plant is located on the Gulf coast just east of Qatar and nuclear fission has begun in one of its four reactors.
The Barakah plant uses South Korean technology. It was originally supposed to start operation in 2017 but was repeatedly delayed because of safety concerns.
The UAE aims to have Barakah meet a quarter of its energy needs, as part of its plans to adopt more sustainable energy sources in the country. Indeed, the country has also been investing heavily in green energy sources such as solar power.
Barakah, which means "blessing" in Arabic, doesn't come without its fair share of controversy. Some experts argue that solar power, not nuclear, is the logical option for supplementary energy as it is cleaner, cheaper, and safer.
The region is strife with turmoil and political tensions and some argue that a nuclear power plant could provide a gateway to producing nuclear weapons. Qatar has already referred to the Barakah plant as a "flagrant threat to regional peace and environment". Qatar is a regional rival of both the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) praised the development in a tweet: "This is an important milestone towards commercial operations and generating clean energy. IAEA has been supporting (the UAE) from the beginning of its nuclear power program," said the agency.
The Barakah plant was developed by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) in cooperation with the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).