Bahrain is reported to be planning to operate nuclear power stations in the country by 2017.

Mr Fahmi Al Jowder, the country’s electricity and water affairs minister said in a statement that “It will be some time before we can adopt nuclear sources here in Bahrain as experts have to be brought in, designs prepared and facilities built, but our plan is to have it by 2017. The UAE is the closest [state] to have this energy as a source and from what I have seen they are ready to adopt it within the next few years.”

The UAE’s lead stems from the Abu Dhabi government’s decision in December 2009 to sign a USD 20 bn deal with a South Korean consortium to build four nuclear plants in the western UAE. The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation hopes to begin building at the Braka site by the end of 2012, and the first of the plants is expected to be operational by 2017.

Bahrain’s plans to match the UAE’s nuclear ambitions are likely to be hampered by a comparative lack of funds. The island state has limited oil and gas wealth, and in any case any decisions made by the government are quite likely to be delayed in its parliament.

•Elsewhere in the region, Jordan has signed a deal to build a test nuclear reactor and Kuwait is also believed to be interested in nuclear energy. Saudi Arabia is currently holding talks with international firms about the construction of a nuclear and renewable energy city. It is also thought to have received bids from UK and US engineering companies for a pre-feasibility study of a nuclear power programme.