More than 300 experts from the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) desalination sector along with leading companies from 40 countries across the globe are taking part in the debut edition of the Mena Desalination Projects conference which kicked off yesterday on March 10 in Abu Dhabi.
The two-day event is being held under the theme "Evaluating Innovations in Desalination for Current & Future Projects,” at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers in the UAE capital as a milestone event in water desalination field, especially with billions of dollars’ worth projects that aim to adopt the latest environment-friendly desalination methods.
It will also see a total of 30 speakers, 40 exhibitors from 40 countries and desalination and technology experts, including six C level executives from key government entities, said the organizers.
Participating government entities are UAE Department of Energy, the Water and Electricity Company in Saudi Arabia, the Egyptian Holding Company for Water and Wastewater, the Public Authority for Electricity and Water in Oman, the Ministry of Electricity and Water of Kuwait and the Sharjah Electricity and Water Company.
The high-profile gathering of 300 desalination and technology experts includes seven C-level executives from key government entities such as: Taqa, Department of Energy (UAE), Sharjah Water and Electricity Authority (Sewa), Holding Company for Water and Wastewater (Egypt), Water and Electricity Company (Saudi Arabia), Ministry of Electricity and Water Kuwait, Public Authority for Water and Electricity DIAM (Oman), in addition to top EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contractors in the region such as Acwa Power, Acciona, GDF, Engie, Besix, Abengoa.
Also, a group of top consultants in the region such as Mott MacDonald, WS Atkins, Besix, Acciona Agua, Acwa Power, "For contracting, Axiona Aqua Middle East, AquaPower, DLA Piper, and other major players in the field are taking part, stated the organizers.
The conference is chaired by Dr Corrado Sommariva, the CEO and founder of SWPC, leading the discussion of 30 chairmen, managing directors, CEOs, water sector leaders and project managers.
Engineer Abdullah Nasser Alzowaid, deputy governor for operation and maintenance at Saline Water Conversion Company (SWCC) will deliver the keynote address about its 2030 vision and upcoming desalination projects and an overview on the upcoming desalination plants to be delivered by 2022 in Saudi Arabia.
A research report revealed that the UAE is leading the region in establishing desalination plants with an investment value of Dh4.75 billion, distributed over two desalination plants operating by reverse osmosis system: the Taweelah plant in Abu Dhabi, scheduled to be completed in the Q4 2022, and the plant at Jebel Ali in Dubai, scheduled to be completed by Q2 of next year.
The total value of investment in the top 10 water desalination plants being developed in the Mena region amounts to Dh19.3 billion, with a UAE share of Dh4.7 billion, while the Saudi Arabia's share amounts for Dh5.6 billion, Dh4 billion for Jordan, Dh1.84 billion for Oman, Dh1.83 billion Egypt, and Dh1.3 billion for Morocco.
Commenting on the event, Engineer Rashid Al Lim, the chairman of Sewa, said: "GCC countries have the highest global water desalination capacity of 81 per cent while running production of around 40 per cent of total world water desalination."
"This explains, on one hand, the development of 289 desalination plants on the shores of the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea," stated Lim.
The report monitors the volume of activity by countries in the region to enhance their share of usable water by expanding desalination plants construction, with the limited capacity of natural resources to meet the growing demands of growing populations.
Saudi Arabia is the most active in this regard with the development of three desalination plants at the same time, Al Khobar desalination plant in the Eastern Province, with a capacity of 210,000 cu m of water per day, which opens in Q2 2021; Yanbu plant with a capacity of 450,000 cu m in Q4 2020, and finally a station in the city of Jizan with a 450,000-cu-m capacity opening in the second quarter of 2022.
The UAE is developing Taweelah plant in Abu Dhabi with a capacity of 450,000 cu m of water per day, with a planned opening in Q4 2022, and the Jebel Ali plant complex with a capacity of 150,000 cu m of water per day and will open in Q2 2020.
Thomas Altmann, vice-president Technology & Innovation, Acwa Power, said: “The shift to renewable energy sources to drive desalination plants will serve as the ideal sustainable alternative and a lucrative economic investment as renewable energy sources and energy storage will continue to decrease in cost.”
Ranked third on the list, Jordan is currently developing Phase One of the 100-million-cu-m Red Sea Desalination Plant which opens in the Q4 2021.
It is followed by Oman with the development of two desalination plants, Al Ghubra 3, with a capacity of 300,000 cu m which opens in Q1 2022, and Al Sharqiyah plant with a capacity of 80,000 cu m which opens in Q2 2021.