UAE wins bid

Abu Dhabi will be home to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena)

The UAE has become the first developing country to host a major international organisation with Abu Dhabi becoming home to the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), according to a story in Gulf News today.

The Irena headquarters will be located in Masdar City, which is currently under construction. Masdar City will be the world's first carbon-neutral, zero-waste city completely powered by renewable energy.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, congratulated President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the country.

Germany and Austria withdrew their bids after realising an overwhelming majority of nations was going to vote for the UAE.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, thanked the countries that extended their support for the UAE. He particularly appreciated the stance of Germany and Austria, which supported the UAE's quest to host the headquarters.

"The contest was strong, but it was fair and transparent," he said.

The meetings are continuing on Tuesday to choose the agency's director general. For this position, candidates from France, Spain, Denmark and Greece are competing.

While Irena's headquarters will be in the UAE, the former West German capital Bonn will host the organisation's "innovations branch" and Vienna will host Irena's office for liaison with the UN and other international energy organisations, the German Ministry of Environment announced.

The agency - established in Bonn last January 26 - hopes to be the body that will oversee and help contribute to a global transition to what is seen as the next generation of energy.

Irena's mandate will come from its 129 member countries, and it is expected to help industrialised and developing countries in improving their regulatory frameworks and build capacity for renewable energy.

Sheikh Abdullah said the UAE Government is committed to provide total support to the agency so Irena can carry out its mandate in offering support to all renewable energy applications to help states benefit from this effective development and the transfer and exchange of expertise, technology and knowledge.

Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar, said the UAE delegation met the executive committee of the headquarters and discussed the overwhelming number of votes they might be getting.

The UAE delegation suggested the competing states withdraw. The committee discussed the matter with Germany and Austria, which agreed to pull out.

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