France Open to UAE Investments in Nuclear Industry, Finance Minister Says

ABU DHABI – France is open to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) investing in its nuclear energy industry, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced on Tuesday, ahead of discussions with UAE officials in the Gulf state.

In March, sources told Reuters that the UAE had approached several European countries about investing in their nuclear power infrastructure through its state nuclear power company. Le Maire confirmed he would explore the UAE’s interest in investing in France’s nuclear sector during his visit.

“We are open to that kind of cooperation,” Le Maire stated, indicating potential investments in private companies such as Orano, a nuclear fuel specialist majority-owned by the French government.

Le Maire was in Abu Dhabi to sign a strategic partnership with the UAE on artificial intelligence and to discuss various investment opportunities. He mentioned the many possibilities for UAE investment, including participation in private companies within the nuclear industry.

French state-controlled energy provider EDF is set to build and operate six new nuclear reactors in France, with substantial public financing from the government. Sources have previously indicated that the UAE’s nuclear energy company is interested in being a minority investor in overseas nuclear power infrastructure assets without managing or operating them.

During his visit, Le Maire was scheduled to meet with Khaldoon Al Mubarak, managing director of the Abu Dhabi government fund Mubadala and chairman of the UAE’s state nuclear energy company, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. He was also set to hold talks with Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE’s minister of industry and advanced technology, and chief executive of Abu Dhabi state oil company Adnoc.

Le Maire expressed France’s readiness to assist the UAE if it decided to expand its own nuclear power industry. In April, sources told Reuters that the UAE was planning to build four new nuclear reactors.

“If there is any possibility to extend the cooperation to the UAE on the nuclear field, we stand ready for that,” Le Maire said. The UAE, a U.S. security partner, became the first Arab state to operate a nuclear power plant with the opening of the Barakah facility in Abu Dhabi in 2021.