The growing interest in nuclear energy among Middle Eastern states calls for a sustainable, institutional, and regional mechanism for responsible nuclear energy infrastructure development. Within this infrastructure development a critical human resource need defines the context for establishing educational and professional development capabilities on nuclear energy safety, safeguards, and security topics in the region. As the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a regional leader in progressing toward a commercial nuclear power capability, this need for professional development and education is acute. Recognizing this need, the Khalifa University of Science Technology and Research (Khalifa University) in Abu Dhabi, UAE - under the aegis of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Arab Emirates Concerning Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy of April 21, 2008 - began working with the United States Government (USG) Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA), the USG’s Department of State (DOS), and several key UAE partners to establish a center aimed at such nuclear power program human resource development.
This regional center has become known as the Gulf Nuclear Energy Infrastructure Institute (GNEII – pronounced “genie”) – and is designed to be a strategic partnership with a long-term vision of developing a responsible and informed nuclear nonproliferation, energy safety, safeguards, and security culture in individuals who will be making decisions within Middle Eastern nuclear energy programs.
The key UAE partners, participants and supporters of GNEII include Khalifa University, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), and the Critical National Infrastructure Authority (CNIA). Under the guidance and support of the US DOE/NNSA and DOS, the key USG implementing partners include Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and the Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute (NSSPI) of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station, a member of The Texas A&M University System. As the implementing partners, Khalifa University, SNL, and NSSPI – with support from key UAE and USG stakeholders – have developed the curriculum, established the facilities, provided the instructors, and plan to prepare Khalifa University staff and GNEII program alumni to become the permanent GNEII faculty. This strategic partnership with Khalifa University acting as the primary implementer, has allowed for the leveraging of expertise to produce a successful regional and education-based institute capable of indigenizing global norms and standards in nuclear energy infrastructure development, safety, safeguards, and security.
GNEII’s primary objective is to immerse future nuclear program decision makers in safety, safeguards, security, and nonproliferation concepts and to familiarize them with how these concepts apply in a regional and international context.