Islamic Lifestyle Islamic Finance

180 mln dirhams eco-retrofit of 650 Dubai mosques likely to begin this year - official

Photo: Jumeirah mosque in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Work on a project to retrofit 650 Dubai mosques to make them more environmentally-friendly, estimated to cost between 90 and 180 million Emirati dirhams ($49 million), will start before the year ends, Mustapha Aanzi, Assistant BD Director, Strategy & Planning, Etihad Energy Services Company (ESCO), told Salaam Gateway.

Etihad ESCO, an energy management services provider owned by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), will issue the first tender on May 4, seeking energy efficiency and water-saving solutions for 650 mosques under the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD).

The project will be rolled out as part of a service agreement Etihad ESCO recently signed with the Islamic Affairs Department. The tender will include retrofit of facilities including mosques, office buildings and imam’s residences.

The scope of the retrofit includes measures to save electricity, solar photo-voltaic cell installation, building upgrades and sustainable water-saving solutions. Etihad ESCO will also provide flexible financing solutions to the Islamic Affairs Department.

“Some opportunities will be measures for upgrades, replacement of equipment, the building envelope, windows, replacement of air-conditioning units, putting smart controls and adapting usage to the number of worshippers in a mosque at any given time. The scope of the project is not fixed. It is to drive the largest savings with the most cost-efficiency,” Aanzi told Salaam Gateway.

Dubai has approximately 2,000 mosques, 95 percent of which are owned by the government through IACAD. With the emirate’s population growing at an annual rate of about 5 percent, the number of mosques will also see a similar growth, analysts say. At least 68 new mosques are currently under construction.

While IACAD is expected to spend more than 400 million dirhams in 2017 on the construction of new mosques, the annual energy costs of the existing facilities is estimated at 100 million dirhams.

“The retrofit service will offer a range of solutions that will make Islamic Affairs’ facilities across the emirate eco-friendlier. Taking into consideration resource usage in these buildings, we are focussing on installing water saving technologies as well as energy solutions like solar PV,” Ali Al Jassim, CEO, Etihad ESCO, said in a statement, announcing the service agreement in March this year.

Aanzi added: “With 39 percent of their water and electricity costs going towards water, mosques offer great opportunities for water saving. Solar will be integral to the project. We will be asking the bidders to include solar,” he said. “We will also be asking them if we can develop from that one unique mosque as a sample to be the standard for future mosques.”

The announcement of tenders is part of the process that began in 2014 with energy audits. “We did some energy audits in some of the mosques in 2014; we found that it is very feasible to do energy retrofits on mosques,” Aanzi said.

The project has been divided into two “packages”, the first of which will open for bidding from accredited companies. “So far, 20-plus companies have received accreditation. We are trying to develop the ESCO market. If you put one big project in the market there are only a few big companies that can handle it. If you make it into smaller parts, you can also enable smaller ESCO companies, local or regional, to participate. There is enough to do for everyone,” Aanzi said.

The tender process is expected to take three to four months. Aanzi said: “We anticipate that by the end of the year, we will have it finalised and work will begin.”

IACAD was established in October 1969 by a decree issued by the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum to establish the Department of Awqaf, which was responsible for listing, registering, and managing endowments in Dubai according to Shariah. The Islamic Affairs Department in Dubai works towards spreading Islamic knowledge and culture, raising religious awareness across the community, reviewing and printing the Quran, religious publications and multimedia, and licensing their distribution. The department also takes care of mosques and supervises them.

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Shalini Seth, White Paper Media