Millennium Post

$50-mn water project: UAE firm to tow huge icebergs from Antarctica

Dubai: A UAE firm plans to spend $50 million to tow huge icebergs from the Antarctica to the country's coastline in an ambitious 12,000-km journey by early 2020 to provide fresh water and bring more rain to the region, media reports said on Monday.

An average large iceberg contains more than 20 billion gallons of water, enough for one million people for over five years, the firm claimed.

The presence of new giant icebergs in waters off the UAE, under the $50-million 'UAE Iceberg Project', would help bring more rain to the arid landscape, the Gulf News quoted the National Adviser Bureau Limited as saying.

The icebergs are expected to cause a unique climatic phenomenon, attracting the clouds over the Arabian Sea to the centre of the icebergs, thus creating a vortex that will cause rainfalls, the company said.

It will also assist in providing fresh water to the region, making the UAE a hub for exporting water to the world, it said.

Vessels will attempt the 12,000-kilometre journey to tow leviathan icebergs from the Heard Island in the South Pole to the coast of Fujairah, it said.

The leviathan icebergs will be towed from the Antarctica to the Fujairah coastline by early 2020 to be melted into pure, polar ice water for humanitarian and commercial distribution, the company said.

The firm is planning a shorter pilot run in 2019 by floating an iceberg to Australia or the southern coast of South Africa, said Abdullah Mohammad Sulaiman Al Shehi, Managing Director of the firm.

The full project details will be revealed by December.

"The patents have been filed for the technology in the UK, some for the towing and another for reducing the melting rate during the journey," Al Shehi said. An average large iceberg contains more than 20 billion gallons of water, enough for one million people for over five years. Given their size of more than a dozen storeys tall in some instances and the length of a football pitch, large icebergs do not easily melt even in warmer sea waters, he said.

"A scientific committee is now being set up consisting of scientists, experts and specialists in the nature of Antarctica, icebergs and marine science, in addition to initiating collaboration with water research centres and universities worldwide," the company said. The firm is "developing a unique technology which would reduce project costs, ensure zero ice melting during the transportation phase and facilitate water-transfer processes to customers at minimal costs."

Once towed to Fujairah, a special process would be used to chip away the icebergs and move them to shore where they would be melted and treated at a water-processing port and stored in industrial-sized water tanks for bottling in a large commercial facility. The iceberg project could also bring side benefits to the UAE such as drawing tourists to the country who want to see the spectacle of huge ice monuments floating


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