Dragging icebergs from Antarctica to UAE for fresh water

With hundreds of icebergs crumbling from Antarctica's ice shelves every year, it's only natural to want to put them to good use.

The massive chunks of ice contain gallons of fresh water and now plans are underway to start dragging them up to the United Arab Emirates - potentially as early as next year.

The hot, dry country struggles to get enough fresh water, so the National Advisor Bureau Ltd company wants to tow up icebergs from the south and mine them for drinking water.

Managing director Abdullah Mohammad Sulaiman Al Shehi told Gulf News the average iceberg contains enough water to supply one million people for five years.

"This is the purest water in the world," he said.

While the idea may seem harebrained, Mr Al Shehi is confident it could work, saying he and his firm have already begun simulating the transport route.

It would be a 8800km journey, from Heard Island, which is around 1630km off the coast of mainland Antarctica, to Fujairah, one of the eastern emirates.

He said because the the bulk of an iceberg is underwater, and its exposed white ice reflects back sunlight, they take quite some time to melt.

"Our simulator predicts that it will take up to one year [to tow an iceberg to UAE]... Towing is the best method," he said.

"We will start the project in beginning of 2018."

The company's already created a simulation demonstrating its plan, which it hopes will not only provide fresh water, but create a new micro-climate and boost tourism.

A monster iceberg which floated down from the Arctic to Newfoundland, Canada, caused traffic jams as people rushed to see the beast.

The same could happen in the arid UAE.

"The [towing of an iceberg] will attract many spectators from around the country, making it a one-of-a-kind gathering," the company said.

Mr Al Shehi said it could also create a micro-climate, potentially prompting rainfall in the dry area.

But it's not the first time someone's dreamt up a scheme with Antarctica's icebergs.

Since 1825, researchers and environmentalists have dreamed of towing the chunks of ice, according to The Atlantic.

And it may raise questions as to who owns the ice - the UAE currently has not claimed any territory in Antarctica.

Heard Island, however, is part of the Australian territory.