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The Middle East: becoming the cradle of water innovation

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  • The Middle East: becoming the cradle of water innovation

The Middle East has emerged as a global leader in water innovation, particularly in the fields of desalination, water and wastewater treatment and the decarbonisation of the water sector. Situated at the crossroads of three continents, the Middle East faces unique challenges when it comes to water scarcity, making it imperative for the region to develop groundbreaking solutions to sustain its growing population and meet its water demands.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is the most water-scarce region in the world. Seven out of the 10 most water-stressed nations are in the region. Furthermore, the World Bank estimates that MENA nations are at risk of facing the greatest economic loss from water shortages due to climate change, which by 2050 could account for 6 to 14 per cent of GDP. Therefore, this has led the nations of the Middle East to embrace a new and disruptive way of conceiving ideas and making them a reality when it comes to water.

Desalination has become a cornerstone of water supply in many Middle Eastern countries, allowing the region to meet its water needs and reduce dependence on conventional freshwater sources. By adopting avant-garde desalination methods and utilizing renewable energy sources, desalination projects in the area have reduced their carbon footprint and embraced sustainability, becoming in this way, pioneers of this water process worldwide.

The Middle East has emerged as a global leader in water innovation, particularly in the fields of desalination, water and wastewater treatment and the decarbonisation of the water sector

The Middle East has also made significant strides in the realm of water and wastewater treatment. With an increasing focus on environmental sustainability and water conservation, the region has implemented cutting-edge technologies to purify and reuse wastewater, reducing strain on freshwater resources. Advanced treatment processes, including membrane filtration, biological treatment, and disinfection techniques, have been employed to ensure the safe and efficient reuse of water for various purposes such as irrigation, industrial processes, and even drinking water.

Off-the-charts thinking is needed to make every drop count in the Middle East. To make the region’s audacious water goals a reality, the top water players are hired to continuously challenge the boundaries of technological possibilities and human ingenuity in order to bring these innovative ideas to fruition.

Smart Water Magazine Bimonthly 18 examines the latest trends and the most disruptive water solutions implemented in the area by analysing groundbreaking projects, such as Saudi Arabia’s NEOM and its focus on renewable energy and brine beneficiation and the development of some of the largest seawater desalination projects in the world, including ACCIONA’s Al Khobar II, Jubail 3B or Shuqaiq 3 in Saudi Arabia.

The protagonist of this issue, Julio de la Rosa, Business Development Director, Middle East at ACCIONA’s water business, speaks to Smart Water Magazine in an exclusive and in-depth interview about the company’s latest activity in the region and its essential contribution to the development of sustainable desalination solutions. A topic Christos Charisiadis, Brine Innovation Manager, NEOM portfolio at Worley, is a specialist in. In a lengthy interview, Charisiadis discusses the invaluable advantages of brine beneficiation and what it means for the desalination sector.

Mark Hedges, Asset Management Executive Director at EWEC, the single buyer and seller of water and electricity in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, also reveals in this number how the firm’s major water projects contribute to EWEC’s approach to decarbonisation, an important step towards achieving the UAE Net Zero by 2050 initiative. 

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