Asianbangla Desk : The United Arab Emirates (UAE) likes to do things big and bold.
But a concept from an ambitious Emirati businessman environmentalist could create perhaps one of the most surprising sights yet – icebergs floating just offshore.
He is Abdullah Mohammad Sulaiman Al Shehi, managing director of the National Advisor Bureau company. His concept – which the UAE authorities have approved for future action – is simplistic on paper, but staggering when gauging the magnitude of effort involved.
The theme is harvesting of clean, pure water.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Al Shehi stressed the importance of the precious commodity, saying: “This was the basis of my inspiration – the need for water cannot be emphasised enough, not just for the UAE but for the entire world.
“At least 1.2 billion people have no access to clean water. The United Nations estimates that by 2030, 50 per cent of the citizens of this planet would face severe water shortage.”
Armed with this knowledge, he wrote a book in 2015. “I took an in-depth look at water harvesting and water-saving mechanisms and I arrived at the theory that icebergs were a solution for the world.”
The project is classified as the “UAE Iceberg Project” and the value for realising it has been estimated at about US$50 million (S$68.3 million).
In what could be a first project of its kind, Al Shehi wants to tow gigantic icebergs from the Antarctic to the UAE’s coastline, in the emirate of Fujairah, by early 2020.
These are to be melted into pure, polar ice water used for humanitarian and commercial consumption and distribution.
A test run will be attempted early next year before ocean-going vessels try the arduous 12,000km journey to tug the icebergs from Heard Island near Antarctica to their intended destination. The initial attempt will aim to float an iceberg to Australia, or the southern coast of South Africa, Al Shehi added.
Despite skepticism, Al Shehi is confident of his project. He has filed in the United Kingdom some patents for the concept behind the towing and others for reducing the melting rate of the ice during the journey.
An average large iceberg reportedly contains some 20 billion gallons of water, enough for one million people to consume over five years.