Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa have said they want to develop civilian nuclear programmes to meet rising power demand. The Gulf Cooperation Council - a loose economic and political alliance of six Arab states, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the UAE - said in 2007 it was studying a joint nuclear energy programme. Across the world, nuclear is seen by many as a long-term solution to high fuel costs and an effective way to cut carbon emissions from the electricity generation sector. Below are the nuclear aspirations of OPEC members, who are seeking to burn less oil in power generation and to maximise its availability for export, as well as the energy aspirations of other Middle Eastern countries. (Text on all slides: Reuters) (Bloomberg Images - for illustrative purposes only)
UAE The United Arab Emirates in December awarded a South Korean consortium the contract to build four nuclear power plants with total capacity of 5,600 megawatts. The contract calls for the first plant to come online in 2017 and for all four reactors to be completed by 2020. The plants will be the first nuclear generation plants in the Gulf Arab region. The UAE said it expected to order more nuclear power plants in the future. (ITP Images)
SAUDI ARABIA This year, Saudi Arabia commissioned Finnish management consultancy Poyry to explore the possibility of getting involved in as many stages of the nuclear energy cycle, including the enrichment process, as possible. US Shaw Group and Japan's Toshiba Corp said this month they had formed a partnership to chase potential nuclear power projects in Saudi Arabia. The firms said they would team with Exelon Nuclear Partners to pursue opportunities to provide a full complement of services to design, engineer, construct and operate new nuclear electric generating plants in Saudi Arabia. France and Saudi Arabia said last year they were close to finalising a civilian nuclear energy cooperation agreement, while the United States and Russia are also interested in helping the world's top oil exporter to develop nuclear energy. (ITP Images)
KUWAIT Kuwait is considering developing nuclear power to meet demand for electricity and water desalination. It has held talks with France's Areva.
QATAR Initial Qatari interest in nuclear power plants has waned with the fall in international oil and gas prices, a Qatari official said in November 2008. If Qatar decided to go ahead with building a nuclear plant, feasibility studies showed it would be unlikely to bring a reactor into operation before 2018. French power giant EDF signed a memorandum with Qatar in early 2008 for cooperation on development of a peaceful civilian nuclear power programme. (ITP Images)
IRAN Russia has been Tehran's main nuclear partner, building Iran's first nuclear power plant near the city of Bushehr, which is set to begin operations later this year. Tehran says the 915-megawatt plant would only be used for generating electricity. But the West accuses Iran of covertly seeking to make nuclear weapons. Iran has announced dates for starting the power plant in the past that have been missed. (ITP Images) (Bloomberg Images - for illustrative purposes only)
JORDAN Amman plans to build a nuclear power plant by 2017. Jordan has signed cooperation agreements with France, China and Canada to co-operate on the development of civilian nuclear power and the transfer of technology. Jordan had talks with French nuclear energy producer Areva in 2008 on building a nuclear power reactor. (ITP Images)