The impact of electricity and water subsidies in the United Arab Emirates

By Michael Gallaher, Tanzeed Alam, Nadia Rouchdy

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has some of the highest electricity and water consumption rates in the world. A driving factor is the presence of electricity and water subsidies and their impact on the investment in efficiency, technology adoption, and implementation of best practices. Decades of subsidization have made Gulf Cooperation Council businesses some of the world’s most inefficient energy and water consumers, and there is a growing consensus in the UAE that a comprehensive conservation plan is needed. However, for any comprehensive conservation plan to be successful, it must include tariff reform as a cornerstone. The social and political issues associated with tariff reform are not trivial. A comprehensive approach needs to be developed and implemented while energy prices are low and the initial impact on customers can be minimized.


Gallaher, M., Alam, T., & Rouchdy, N. (2017). The impact of electricity and water subsidies in the United Arab Emirates. (RTI Press Publication No. PB-0012-1705). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Michael GallaherMichael P. Gallaher, PhD, is the senior director of RTI International’s Center for Environmental, Technology, and Energy Economics.

Tanzeed AlamTanzeed Alam, MSc, is the climate and energy director at EWS-WWF in the United Arab Emirates.

Nadia RouchdyNadia Rouchdy, BCom, is a manager for climate change and energy at EWSWWF in the United Arab Emirates.

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