Abu Dhabi: The Petroleum Institute (PI) today launched the solar-powered car that will represent the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge, January 15-19, sponsored by ADNOC and hosted by Masdar. The super-sleek, high-tech vehicle will compete against 20 international teams in a multi-day, timed road competition across 1,200 kilometres of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The public launch follows the unveiling of the car by Abdulla Nasser Al Suwaidi, Director General of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and chairman of PI, at a ceremony attended by the PI Governing Board members. Also in attendance were representatives of the car’s sponsors, including Japan Oil Development Co, Total, SunPower and Michelin.
Young PI students will battle against elite international teams, including entries from Japan, United States, Middle East, Australia and Europe. This is the first time the UAE has entered the competition, which for almost three decades, has showcased the technology and speed of cars powered only by solar energy.
The PI solar car team leader, 23-year old Emirati student, Alatqa Al Hanaee, said: “We are honoured to carry the UAE flag and compete against talented, international teams from around the world, here in Abu Dhabi. While this is the first time the UAE has entered the solar challenge, we have built a fast, cutting-edge car that has a strong chance to win.
“Our team has been training for months,” added Al Hanaee. “We’re fine-tuning the motor, making last-minute adjustments and, of course, practicing our driving skills. We have worked extremely hard and are excited to compete and make the UAE proud.” The PI team is backed by the UAE’s leading motor-sports heroes. Sheikh Khalid bin Faisal Al Qassimi, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, and Khaled Al Qubaisi will be ambassadors and advisors to the team throughout the competition – from qualification and time trials to the chequered flag.
Sheikh Al Qassimi said: “I have been hugely impressed by the dedication and commitment of everyone involved in this project. The fact that this is the first time a solar car from the UAE has participated in an event of this kind makes the achievement even more remarkable.
“My hope is that this historic endeavour will inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers to push the boundaries of automotive technology still further, for the benefit of everyone.” “The UAE should rally around its young drivers and this historic event,” said Ben Sulayem. “The PI team will carry our flag in an international road competition, which is being held for the first time in the Middle East. I know first-hand how much the UAE loves its motor sports, and this event will I am sure, spark our nation’s interest and support.
“But these cars represent more than just raw speed. They are also a symbol of our country’s innovative spirit.” Dr. Fahad Almaskari, PI Solar Car Project director and team leader, said: “Today is an important milestone. The students in the team have worked to the best of their abilities and pushed themselves to the limit in utilizing their knowledge and experience and applying it to the project in hand. I’m proud to be a part of all they have achieved so far, and I would like to thank everyone for their support at the event today.” ADNOC’s and Masdar’s support for the Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge is an investment in innovation, human capital development and the advancement of science – fundamental pillars in Abu Dhabi’s long-term economic diversification.
Qualifications and time trials will take place January 15 at Yas Marina Circuit. The next day, cars will speed through the heart of the capital and head toward Abu Dhabi’s desert terrain. During the final leg of the challenge, January 19, teams will drive back to the city centre, crossing the finish line at the First Gulf Bank Arena.
The Abu Dhabi Solar Challenge will be part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, an Abu Dhabi government initiative to address the interconnected challenges affecting energy, water and sustainable development. The largest gathering on sustainability in the Middle East, the event attracts more than 32,000 delegates and visitors from more than 170 countries. It will take place from January 17-24.