ADAM SCHRECKDUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) ¿ The United Arab Emirates on Sunday awarded a South Korean consortium a prized $20 billion deal to build nuclear reactors as the oil-rich Persian Gulf nation races to meet its booming energy needs. Korea Electric Power Corp.'s winning bid beat out rival offers from more seasoned atomic power producers in France, Japan and the United States. The deal marks the first time South Korea will export a nuclear power plant. Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. valued the deal for four 1,400-megawatt reactors at about $20 billion ¿ considerably less than some earlier estimates suggested. "We look forward to a long and productive relationship as we work toward powering the future growth of the UAE with low-carbon, peaceful nuclear energy," ENEC Chief Executive Mohamed al-Hammadi said. The Korean consortium includes Samsung, Hyundai and Doosan Heavy Industries. Japan's Toshiba Corp. and its Westinghouse subsidiary will also play a role. The UAE is one of the world's largest oil exporters but must import natural gas to run many of its existing power plants. It says its energy needs are expected to almost double by 2020. The Emirates has said it plans to begin construction on its nuclear plants in 2012. ENEC said the first reactor should begin providing electricity in 2017, with the remaining units coming online by 2020.