Developments and Trends in The Middle East Water Sector
10 September 2012, News release from ACWA Services
The Middle East faces considerable water and sanitation challenges, which governments across the region are acknowledging and tackling aggressively as an integral part of their development strategies.
As economies pick up, promotion of water conservation and storage, wastewater recycling and reuse and new approaches to desalination characterise regional thinking. Middle Eastern countries have exacting expectations for design, fabrication and construction, with superb quality, sustainability and cost-effectiveness required as standard. In the face of low-cost competition entrants to this market must provide customer-focused, intelligent solutions that match these needs.
Rapid growth and high levels of water consumption characterise this water-stressed region, where water is often traditionally provided at low (or no) cost. Sustainably fulfilling the needs of residents, industry and agriculture is a sensitive and challenging task, but one that must be tackled - predictions suggest overall water requirements are set to grow from 35 billion m3/year to 49 billion m3/year by 2020 in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) area alone.
Notable among the water sector trends aimed at overcoming these formidable challenges is a drive towards public-private partnerships (PPPs), which ACWA Emirates confirmed with the recent appointment of leading Spanish economist Luis Fernandez to provide in-depth support for the company's push into this sector.
Mr Fernandez has extensive experience of major PPP projects in the region, and believes that ACWA's remarkable track record, which includes the world's largest membrane bioreactor (MBR) wastewater treatment plant at Al Ansab in Oman, means the company has the proven expertise in delivering best-in-class technologies, creating value for money and upholding operational excellence to succeed.
The company's many successes in the regional MBR market recently won it a prestigious Frost & Sullivan Enabling Technology award at the market analyst's 2012 Middle East Environment Industry Awards. The accolade was in recognition of the Company's remarkable achievements in the regional membrane bioreactor (MBR) market over the past five years.
Industrial growth in the region, intended to protect against the peaks and troughs of the oil and gas sector, will create significant opportunities for advanced water and wastewater treatment solutions. This market is predicted to grow rapidly, with the MBR sector in particular due to soar by over 17% per annum, according to Frost & Sullivan.
And this prediction seems to be accurate as ACWA have recently been awarded two new major contracts. An MBR Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) for the KAUST Research park located on the west coast of Saudi Arabia and another MBR-STP plus a Reverse Osmosis Plant to treat desalinated water which is destined for Abu Dhbai.
Projects also increasingly combine a creative mix of solutions to resolve multi-faceted needs, such as the ACWA Emirates project at the Princess Noura University for Women in Saudi Arabia that achieved production of first water in mid-June. Here, a high-efficiency RO system is an integral part of a complex treatment approach that will provide water for both irrigation and drinking on the vast, beautifully landscaped site.
ACWA sourced best-in-class solutions from around the world, as quality is of supreme importance at this landmark educational establishment. Water from the RO system will be blended with cooled, filtered raw groundwater, and also with treated wastewater from the adjacent MBR wastewater treatment plant, to achieve a required daily irrigation capacity of 13,000m3.
ACWA Emirates Director and General Manager, Gary Jackson notes:
"Intelligent, tailored solutions such as this herald the future in this discriminating market. Skilled local knowledge, an intense customer focus and a deep understanding of the complex challenges that the region faces are all fundamental requirements for success".