OAPEC report highlights growing water scarcity

Massive investment in desalination capacity in Arab world necessary.

Water tanks in a desalination facility somewhere in the Gulf region.
Water tanks in a desalination facility somewhere in the Gulf region.

Population growth will exacerbate the water shortage in the Arab world, necessitating further investment in desalination and water treatment capacity, a report by the Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) shows.

The report, published in the Arab Oil and Cooperation quarterly magazine issued by the Kuwaiti-based OAPEC, estimates that the population in the 21 Arab League nations will exceed 500 million by 2030, growing from 318 million at the end of 2005.

This will diminish the individual share of natural water supply to around 667 cubic meters in 2025, according to OAPEC. In1990, that figure stood at 1,430 cubic meters.

The report highlights the Arab Peninsula, which is particularly affected by the shortage of natural water resources:

“The problem is that the Arabian Peninsula does not have one single running river except for seasonal floods coming from the mountains during raid....estimates show that the proven water resources in the GCC and Yemen do not exceed 262,600 million cubic metres while annual natural feedback does not exceed 1,540 million cubic metres."
This shortage will necessitate massive future investment in desalination capacity.

“Due to such low supply and the rapid population growth, all GCC countries and Yemen are expected to suffer from heavy water supply shortages in the long term and this should prompt measures to cover the deficit, including massive investments in desalination projects in the region."

Saudi Arabia, which already accounts for 26 percent of global desalination activity, will remain the biggest spender, with US$60 billion already earmarked investment in water infrastructure.

Over the next 17 years, the Kingdom will spend $14 billion on 16 desalination facilities capable of producing 2.1 billion cubic meters of potable water per day.

In the UAE, officials said last month the country allocates nearly Dh11.8 billion per year for the production of desalinated water.


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