An inventor and entrepreneur from the UAE plans to drag an iceberg to Australia or South Africa later this year – at a cost of $80million. The mission will act as a test run for a much more ambitious project which he hopes will end with a hunk of ice measuring 1.2miles by 550 yards being taken to the UAE.
Abdulla Alshehi says a chunk of Antarctic ice will be towed to either Cape Town or Perth at some point in 2019. The aim would be to provide the Emirates with a steady supply of fresh drinking water, along with a tourist attraction.
Eventually, Alshehi plans to move a piece of ice measuring 1.2miles by 550 yards to the Fujairah coast of the UAE, where he hopes it will provide millions of gallons of fresh drinking water along with a new tourist attraction
Speaking to Euronews’s Inspire Middle East, Alshehi said: ‘As per our analysis, it will be cheaper to bring in these icebergs rather than using desalination water (gained by stripping the salt out of seawater.)
‘Desalination plants require a huge amount of capital investment and means pumping a huge amount of seawater to the gulf, killing fish and marine life.
The National Advisor Bureau plans to harvest icebergs from Heard Island, around 1000 kilometres off the coast of mainland Antarctica.
It will then transport them around 8,800 km to Fujairah, one of the seven emirates which make up the UAE.
The UAE is one of the most arid countries and one of the top 10 most water-scarce in the world, at severe risk of droughts over the next 25 years.
An average iceberg contains more than 20 billion gallons of water. Upon arrival at a specially constructed processing facility, workers will ‘mine’ the icebergs for their water supplies.
One iceberg could provide enough for one million people over five years, according to the company.
‘We believe it will be economically better and more environmentally friendly to use the icebergs, not just for the United Arab Emirates, but throughout the world.’
Alshehi points out that similar schemes were trialled before by the likes of Saudi Arabia, but their project failed in 1977 due to technical difficulties.
He plans to overcome these difficulties using a metal ‘belt’ which will be constructed around the ice, before using a boat to drag the block across the ocean.
The block selected for use by the UAE will be chosen via satellite. It is expected to lose around 30 per cent of its mass during its ten-month journey from Heard Island, near Antarctica, to the Fujairah coast.
Even so, the block will provide millions of litres of fresh drinking water to the Arab kingdom, as well as bringing natural rain clouds by releasing cool, damp air.
Alshehi hopes the block will also prove to be a major tourist attraction.
The final project will cost between $100million and $150million, in addition to the $60million to $80million spent on the test run.
An average iceberg contains more than 20 billion gallons of water, according to the Abu Dhabi-based company.
They take a long time to melt as 80 per cent of their mass is underwater, while the white ice above reflects sunlight and deflects its heat.
Upon arrival at a specially constructed processing facility, workers will ‘mine’ the icebergs for their water supplies.
Blocks of ice will be chipped off and placed in giant tanks, before being filtered and processed.
‘This is the purest water in the world’, Mr Al Shehi added.
He also claims the iceberg’s presence could provide a more moist micro- climate in the area, perhaps even prompting rainfall.
And the project may prove a boost for tourism if it proves a success, with people travelling to see the unusual sight of an iceberg off the coast of the Arabian Gulf.