In the face of a booming population and arid desert conditions, the United Arab Emirates’ total investment in water projects — including waste water processing, water generation and transportation — has soared 20 percent in the last eight months alone.
While investment stood at $11.62 billion for the whole of 2007, it now stands at $14 billion for the year to date in 2008. The number of projects either ongoing or planned has leapt from 39 to 55, according to a study from projects information specialist ProLeads and reported by U.A.E. daily Emirates Business.
Around 50 percent of the investment is dedicated to processing waste water, while water generation and transportation account for 36 percent and 13 percent, respectively. According to the data, around 26 percent of the new generation capacity will come from Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Agency (Adwea) — the single buyer and seller of electricity and water in the U.A.E.’s capital.
The state-owned agency is spending $1.3 billion for the expansion of its five existing desalination plants. One of the plants is scheduled for completion within the year, with another one opening next year. The remaining three will be complete by 2010.
Demand for water in Abu Dhabi is slated to grow by 43 percent over the next five years, during which time demand for electricity will almost double, according to Adwea projections. Over the next five years, the agency plans to increase its water production capacity from the current 626 million gallons per day to 969 million gallons by 2013.
In Dubai, the emirate’s Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is spending $334 billion on water projects, 80 percent of which is spent on water generation and transportation and 20 percent for processing, according to Emirates Business.
Dubai’s project portfolio is already nearing $7 billion in value. Dewa Managing Director and CEO Mohammad Al Tayer have said that the authority will invest another $27 billion by the end of the decade on water and power projects.
The report added that the emirates of Sharjah and Ajman currently spend $1.2 billion and $357 million, respectively, while the total value of the projects in Fujairah, one of the smallest emirates, is put at $856 million.
The threat of water shortages is an ever-pressing concern in the Gulf region. Saudi King Abdullah has affirmed the need for careful use of water and for water-resource conservation.
In his weekly meeting with the Council of Ministers at the Huwaiyyah Palace in Taif, King Abdullah said Saudi Arabia should accelerate measures to address water shortages and guarantee a sufficient water supply to all regions.
The measures include the construction of new dams, digging wells, the shifting of floating desalination plants to places close to affected regions, and the hiring of fleets of tanker trucks, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
Asir province cities including Riyadh, Jeddah and Taif have been suffering from water shortages. Citizens have been obliged to wait for hours for water tankers at water distribution centres, the agency reported. The water shortage has been attributed to climatic changes and drought in most parts of the Kingdom.