Water. Arguably the world's most valuable resource. A population can't live without it and a country can't run its economy or industries without. As such, a water infrastructure is vital to every country and those in the Middle East are ensuring theirs are up to scratch.
Last year, a report was published that by 2030 a 'perfect storm' of population increases, food shortages and diminishing water supplies would reach breaking point and as such many governments have been making sure they don't waste any of their resources, especially in the Middle East where water isn't as plentiful as in other countries.
Countries such as the UAE have, to prevent water waste and misuse, implemented 'water conservation laws'. The UAE doesn't have any form of water conservation regulation and such matters are generally handled on a local regional level. This often leads to mismanagement and millions of gallons going to waste. As such, water resource researchers are calling for more monitoring of environmental impacts on the UAE's main source of water, the Arabian Gulf.
Once the law is passed, regional utility companies such as Dubai Electricity and Water Authority would fall under its authority and would have to regulate their production and distribution of water accordingly. It is simple acts like this that show the extent many Middle Eastern states are going to protect a resource that is quite scarce in the region. Surplus water is generally not a luxury many states can afford and many are investing heavily in projects to ensure supplies last as long as possible.
Creating water in the desert
Saudi Arabia is one of the countries that is ensuring that water is treated with the respect that it deserves, by stating they are planning on investing US$53 billion into a variety of water projects over the next 15 years.
Ensuring that no water is wasted, the chief executive of the Kingdom's National Water Company has stated that around 70 percent of the investment will be for sewage and waste water treatment projects in the kingdom due to ineffective systems currently in place.
Speaking at the time, Loay Al Musallam said, "We currently have a sewage project in Riyadh and Jeddah with an investment of 18 billion riyals and we are looking to expand these projects to the rest of the Kingdom
"We rely on desalination which is very expensive and that's why we need to increase the utilization level of sewage water."
Currently, reused sewage water only makes up six to seven percent to the water used across the kingdom. With the world's supply of fresh water running out, accounting for only 2.5 percent of the planet's entire water supply, it is no surprise that Saudi Arabia will aim to extend their water treatment and sewage facilities, aiming to cover 60 percent of the population over the next two years.
Desalination is another important investment for many Middle Eastern countries and as such, many foreign companies have been approached to aid in assorted projects. One that has recently received a lot of press attention is IBM and Saudi Arabia's King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) attempt to use solar energy to power a desalination plant in Al Khafji. It is hoped that the plant could produce up to 7.9 million gallons of water a day, enough for 100,000 people.
While water might be scare, sunlight isn't and is hoped that this method could produce water for the entire region. Water desalination is currently considered the best strategic choice to provide drinking water for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with the state producing more than 18 percent of the world's desalinated water. However, the cost of producing desalinated water is high due to the substantial energy consumption of the desalination plants. Therefore, reducing the energy cost will be positively reflected in the production cost.
With such investment and drive to ensure that not one drop of the region's water is wasted, it is hoped that other Middle Eastern countries follow suite ensuring water is not a resource that countries will go to war over.