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The UAE Program for Rain Enhancement Science is an international research initiative designed to advance the science and technology of rain enhancement by offering managed grant assistance to selected teams of researchers.

The UAE Program for Rain Enhancement Science

The UAE Program for Rain Enhancement Science is an international research initiative designed to stimulate and promote scientific advancement and the development of new technology in this area. Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, the Ministry of Presidential Affairs established this Program and its grant awarding functions as one of the seven pillars of the UAE’s Innovation Strategy. The Program is managed by the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS) as part of its mission to support research in weather modification. In its inaugural cycle, up to five projects will be selected as awardees for the total grant of US$5 million that will be awarded over a three year period. For the first cycle of the Program, the prize winning project proposals will be announced and honored at a ceremony in January 2016.

Importance of the program

Almost half of the world’s population could be faced with high water stress by 2030, according to the UN. Much of the projected total global population increase of three billion over the next three decades will occur in developing countries, putting severe pressure on already limited supplies of potable water. For arid and semi-arid regions, rain enhancement could offer a viable, cost-effective supplement to existing water supplies. Recent technological developments offer the potential of using rain enhancement as an important supplement to existing sources of groundwater and desalinated water. Through the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science, our country is leading the way in promoting innovation for the benefit of future generations at risk of water shortages.

Water Security – a critical challenge for the future

There is a real danger that the stresses imposed by increasing water scarcity could trigger civil and inter-state conflicts. As water security is an essential element of national security, there is an increasing imperative for countries to strengthen their water resilience by promoting research and development, investment in new technologies, more efficient resource conservation and effective international partnerships.

Although the immediate aim of the UAE Program for Rain Enhancement Science is to increase the UAE’s rainfall and enhance freshwater supply, the intention is to generate results that could have wider applications for countries that might benefit from advances in rain augmentation science and technology.

The UAE’s achievements in rain enhancement

The UAE’s rain enhancement operations were initiated in 1990, and were developed through cooperation with organizations such as the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, USA, and the US Space Agency, NASA. In 2005, the UAE launched the UAE Prize for Excellence in Advancing the Science and Practice of Weather Modification in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). This competition was run once but has been inactive since. The prize was thereafter amended to an International Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science. The UAE now has more than 60 networked weather stations, an integrated radar network, and six specialized aircraft for seeding operations. Importantly, no harmful chemicals are used in these operations: they rely instead on natural salts such as potassium chloride and sodium chloride