The UAE cabinet on Sunday endorsed an agreement signed with France in January to cooperate on the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
The deal was inked during a visit to Abu Dhabi by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, making the UAE the third Arab state to sign such an agreement France.
The agreement “outlines a cooperation framework for the assessment and possible use of nuclear energy for peaceful ends”, according to state news agency Wam.
French companies Total, Suez and Areva have all expressed interest in joining forces to develop plans for two new-generation nuclear reactors in the UAE.
The possible start-up date for the new reactors is estimated to be around 2016.
The aim of the nuclear energy programme is to bring much needed power capacity on line in a sustainable and carbon-neutral way.
In addition to having one of the largest carbon-footprints in the world, the UAE is also under threat of suffering a severe power shortage in the near future.
Domestic demand for electricity is set to grow at an annual rate of 8%, according to a report published by the Middle East Economic Digest (Meed) last week.
An additional 60,000 megawatts of new power capacity, around 80% of currently installed capacity, will be required across the Gulf by 2015, according to the study.