DEWA’s R&D Centre provides an ideal incubator to enhance the competitiveness of UAE researchers
Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has achieved considerable progress in attracting Emirati talents and Emiratisation of jobs, through an Emirati workforce managing, operating, and maintain its operations and facilities to achieve sustainable development. DEWA adopts strategies and specific work mechanisms to attract experienced and fresh graduate Emiratis to work at DEWA, particularly in engineering and technical roles. This supports its Emiratisation plan to prepare Emiratis to spearhead the energy and water sectors and appoint Emiratis in leading professional positions in DEWA’s divisions and departments.
DEWA has achieved excellent results in Emiratisation, with Emiratis comprising 88.14% of senior management and 58.37% in middle management. DEWA has 3,282 Emirati employees. DEWA is also committed to achieving the UAE National Agenda goals for inclusive employment, to develop the capabilities of People of Determination and provide them with professional and operational skills that support their economic and social independence.
“DEWA strives to provide attractive job opportunities for UAE nationals and organises regular training programmes to qualify employees in all sectors. This enables them to perform their role in enhancing DEWA’s leadership and excellence, and also achieves the national policies for UAE nationals.
This is in accordance with the words of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who once observed, ‘The most important characteristic of the founding fathers and the most important lesson we learned from them is that the citizen is the priority, and we should give importance to building humans before building edifices.’ DEWA is committed to achieving the directives of His Highness to support the skills and capabilities of UAE nationals and their career development.
This achieves the UAE Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, to strengthen the UAE's position as a global hub for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and increase its contribution to the national economy by advancing innovation and future technologies. This is through using the state-of-the-art technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI); Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV); Energy Storage; Blockchain; Internet of Things (IoT) among others,” said HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA.
“DEWA’s R&D Centre at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park hosts an array of experts, researchers, and nationals who actively contribute to developing the clean and renewable energy sectors. They also support the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to provide 75% of Dubai's total power capacity from clean energy sources by 2050. Our national staff have proved, time and again, their capability to compete with international staff, provide solutions and innovative research papers that contribute to overcoming challenges in the energy and water sectors around the world,”
added Al Tayer.
Two strategic initiatives to enhance and sustain R&D
The R&D Centre focuses on four areas of research including producing electricity from solar power and other clean energy technologies; the integration of smart grids; energy efficiency, and water. The Centre includes a 3d printed lab, the first building in the UAE to be fully printed onsite, and the first such 3D-printed lab in the world.
The Centre has launched the Al Baheth programme to promote and enhance R&D and attract Emirati graduates to work at the R&D Centre. These include organising seminars, conferences, workshops, employment fairs, training programmes, competitions, field visits, university and school visits. The programme aims to engage local and international universities in R&D, by sending their best technical candidates to work with DEWA researchers in different areas. The programme consists of four categories: Internships, Capstone Projects Fund, visiting researchers, Seminars and Workshops.
The Centre has also launched the Development Programme for Research Collaboration to create a sustainable approach for R&D projects by DEWA’s employees and engineers to overcome current challenges. This also improves current operations through research, promoting and enhancing the R&D across all DEWA sectors and administrations.
Emiratis to enhance the effective role of the R&D Centre
DEWA hosts an array of the best national talents. The R&D Centre consists of 37 researchers, 54% of them, are PhD and master degree holders. Emiratisation has reached 70%. The Centre’s team has published more than 40 research papers in international conferences and science magazines. A patent has been granted and 5 others are underway.
“The centre opened new horizons for me to work and lead a group of highly qualified Emirati researchers who focused on serving the UAE and Dubai. This is through overcoming pressing challenges in energy and water. The R&D Centre attracts international research partners, thanks to its location at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the largest single-site solar park in the world. So, I learn from those international researchers with the best R&D practices and we exchange experiences. The Centre also enables us to learn about the latest and most important technologies. Those technologies are developed by companies to test their solutions at the Centre and benefit from its advanced research facilities, resources, and infrastructure,”
said Dr. Saif Almheiri, Vice President of Research & Development at DEWA.
The Centre is proud of its Emirati staff, including Dr. Hisham Ismail, Senior Researcher, Fourth Industrial Revolution at the R&D Centre. Dr. Ismail holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Maryland, USA.
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution department supports the Centre’s four major operational areas. A specialised team does the full programming for those technologies at the Centre. Some of them are developed inside the Centre, such as the robots used to test the PV panels at the Solar Park, becoming the first centre in the world to develop this technology. This has enabled us to regularly check the panels, raise their performance, and reduce costs,”
said Dr. Ismail.
“Besides supporting other departments of the Centre, I train new employees on preparing research papers to be published internally. This is part of Abhathi programme to conduct 4 types of research annually on any area of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and link them to Centre’s pillars. We also train students from different universities, especially senior engineering students. We help them develop their capstones through Al Baheth programme. We have recently funded 14 capstones. We plan to use the outcomes of those researches to find innovative and scientific solutions for current and future challenges. This is part of our commitment to encourage scientific research in the UAE and build a knowledge-and-innovation based economy,”
added Dr. Ismail.
Ali Al Marzooqi is also one of the Emiratis the centre is proud of. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sustainable and renewable energy engineering from Sharjah University, and a master of science’s degree in excellence in environmental management at Hamdan bin Mohammed Smart University.
“I joined the R&D Centre in 2016, right after graduation from Sharjah University as an R&D technician. I am currently conducting researches on energy storage, as part of the Smart Grid Integration, which is one of the Centre’s four major operational areas. My role mainly focuses on developing batteries for the desert climate, and increasing the efficiency and stability of Dubai electricity grid by using renewable energy resources, and using different technologies and materials and in partnership with international companies,”
said Al Marzooqi.
“DEWA gave me opportunities for constant training and development. Despite joining DEWA recently, I am responsible for several tasks, including developing technologies, and preparing two research papers every year. Some of those papers have been published in international prestigious conferences.
DEWA enabled the Centre’s team to participate in international conferences and workshops, including a conference by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and a workshop in cooperation with Stanford University and the US-based Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).
Empowering Emirati women at the R&D Centre
DEWA believes that women are key partners in sustainable development. It realises their important role in energy, conservation, and protecting natural resources. The success of sustainable development programmes is closely linked to the effective participation of women.
DEWA has 1,949 women in its workforce, 80.5% of them are Emirati. This includes 671 female engineers and technicians at DEWA. 32% of employees at the Innovation Centre are Emirati female employees, with most of them highly educated in scientific and engineering areas.
Emirati women play a substantial role in the Centre’s success. One of the most prominent contributors to the Centre’s is Dr. Aaesha Abdulla Alnuaimi, Senior Solar Energy Researcher at the R&D Centre. She holds a top position at the Centre after proving her competence and capability to enhance DEWA and Dubai’s successes. Dr. Alnuaimi reflects the Emirati women’s capability to make a change, whether in education or career. She holds a PhD with honour in engineering science with multiple majors from Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. She is nano-technology solar cells specialist. She is also a member of the Mohammed bin Rashid Academy for Scientists. She is a visiting professor of many universities and organisations including GlobalFoundries- Germany, and Bilkent University- Turkey. She won the ‘Woman of the Year’ prize at Middle East Solar Industry Association (MESIA) awards 2019; Sheikh Rashid Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement; and The UAE Student Awards for the Advancement of Post-Graduate Education, Ministry of Energy.
“My work focuses on leading and directing the research team in solar energy. As an Emirati researcher in solar energy, I strive to leave a legacy in achieving the vision of the UAE in solar energy. My work at the R&D Centre has enabled me to study and find solutions for solar energy challenges in the desert climate of the UAE. I also conduct applied research with clear impact in achieving the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy. The Centre has enabled me to participate in the most important and prestigious conference in solar energy. It has supported me in publishing several research papers in the most important conferences and journals. This has also enabled sharing knowledge and experience with the largest world-class institutions and the most important research centres, national and international universities like Stanford University, where I have worked as a visiting researcher,”
“I contribute in building young Emirati capabilities in solar energy research. I have trained engineers on research basics to gain needed experiences that help them to effectively participate in R&D and build a knowledge-based competitive economy encouraging innovation,”