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HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer: Dubai has a comprehensive approach to water resources sustainability

  • HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer: Dubai has comprehensive approach to water resources sustainability
    HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority

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Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)
DEWA uses the latest technologies in water production, transmission, distribution, as well as control of water networks. This has contributed to several successes and achievements, making it one of the best utilities in the world.
Schneider Electric

HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), has emphasised that Dubai has a comprehensive approach to ensure the sustainability of water resources in line with the Dubai Integrated Water Resource Management Strategy 2030, which focuses on enhancing water resources, rationalising water consumption, and using cutting-edge technologies and innovative solutions. Al Tayer made these comments in his keynote speech at the 10th international symposium of the Honourable Hadith organised virtually by Al Wasl University under the theme ‘Water Security in the Prophet’s Sunnah: Strategies and Objectives.’ It was organised under the patronage of HE Juma Al Majid, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Al Wasl University, and was attended by Dr. Mohamed Ahmed Abdel Rahman, Vice Chancellor, Al Wasl University, researchers, specialists, and the university’s professors and students.

Al Tayer said that water is the basis of life. Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran, “We made from water every living thing.” Prophet Mohammed, Peace Be Upon Him, urged us to rationalise the use of water and to give it to the needy to be rewarded by Allah.

“According to a report issued by the UNICEF and the World Health Organisation in 2019, one in 3 people globally do not have access to safe drinking water. Every year, 297 000 children under 5 years die due to diseases linked to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene. That’s why, water security is one of the biggest challenges worldwide. In 2016, the World Economic Forum listed ‘Water Crises’ as one of the top global risks affecting the planet. In support of the 6th goal of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) 2030 to ‘ensure access to water and sanitation for all,’ the UAE has launched the Water Security Strategy 2036, to ensure sustainable access to water during both normal and emergency conditions, and address long-term future water security challenges. The Middle East and North Africa is the most water-scarce region in the world, with over 60% of the region’s population living in areas with high or very high surface water stress, compared with a global average of about 35%. The UAE faces water-related challenges such as the scarcity of fresh natural water resources, the depletion of groundwater, and the high demand for water. That’s why, the wise leadership attaches great importance to preserving water, its sensible use, and security. Meanwhile, the UAE supports international efforts to provide drinking water by encouraging research institutions, individuals, and innovators from around the world to develop sustainable and innovative solutions to desalinate water using solar power,” said Al Tayer.

“In line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, that the best charity is giving water, we develop sustainable solutions to provide clean and potable water, and to provide a water safety net for the needy, lower-income families and developing communities to achieve economic and social development. In line with the directives of the wise leadership, the UAE Water Aid Foundation (Suqia UAE), under the umbrella of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, provides safe drinking water to needy communities in many countries of the world. Children in rural areas worldwide spend long hours every day looking for water, which results in losing access to education and development,” he added.

“His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, once said, "Every challenge is an opportunity for learning, a chance to test our capabilities and knowledge." In this context, the installed capacity of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, has reached 490 million imperial gallons of desalinated water per day (MIGD) thanks to its state-of-the-art infrastructure, innovation and planning. DEWA has achieved a new world record for the lowest water levelised tariff of 0.277 USD per cubic metre for its 120 MIGD Hassyan SWRO Plant. The project is DEWA’s first Independent Water Producer model project. It builds on the great success DEWA achieved in the Independent Power Producer model projects at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which is the largest single-site solar park in the world. We have a comprehensive approach to ensure the sustainability of water resources in line with the Dubai Integrated Water Resource Management Strategy 2030, which focuses on enhancing water resources, rationalising water consumption, and using cutting-edge technologies and innovative solutions. The Demand Side Management Strategy aims to reduce water usage by 30% by 2030. In this regard, DEWA has achieved significant results. It managed to reduce using groundwater for drinking purposes from 100% in the 1980s to just 0.4% today,” noted Al Tayer.

Al Tayer explained that DEWA adopts three pillars to ensure the sustainability of water production. These are based on using clean solar power to desalinate seawater using Reverse Osmosis (RO) technologies, which uses less energy. Excess water is stored in aquifers and pumped back into the water network when needed. This integrated innovative model protects the environment and is a sustainable economic solution. It also emphasises Dubai’s ability to anticipate and shape the future. Currently, DEWA is implementing a project to store 6 billion gallons of water in aquifers that can be retrieved when needed. This will provide the Emirate with a strategic reserve of over 50 million gallons of desalinated water per day in emergencies for 90 days, while ensuring the quality of the stored water remains unaffected by external factors. According to our strategy, by 2030, all desalinated water will be produced by a mix of clean energy that uses both renewable energy and waste heat. This will allow Dubai to exceed global targets for using clean energy to desalinate water. Increasing the operational efficiency in decoupling desalination from electricity production will save around AED 13 billion and reduce 44 million tonnes of carbon emissions.

“In line with the directives of the wise leadership, we work to make Dubai a global model for clean energy and green economy by adopting the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. DEWA's R&D Centre at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the largest single-site solar park in the world, focuses on four major operational areas: electricity generation from solar power, integration of smart grids, energy efficiency, and water. DEWA’s efforts in R&D use the latest global technologies to reduce losses in its water transmission and distribution networks. This has shrunk from over 42% in 1988 to 5.1% today. This is one of the lowest in the world. DEWA is also committed to raising public awareness about environmental and sustainability issues, and the importance of the rational use of natural resources, especially water. DEWA organises the Conservation Award in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and the Dubai Knowledge and Human Development Authority, to recognise educational institutions that implement best practices in saving electricity and water as well as individual achievements in the educational sector. DEWA’s conservation programmes and initiatives between 2011 and 2020 achieved cumulative savings of 2.44 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity and 6.7 billion gallons of water. This is equivalent to saving AED 1.35 billion and reducing 1.22 million tonnes of carbon emissions,” said Al Tayer.

“We will continue to innovate unique experiences that enhance the happiness of all our stakeholders and contribute to making Dubai the smartest and happiest city in the world. We will work to devise proactive solutions to the challenges of the next 50 years to achieve the vision of our wise leadership and make the UAE the world’s leading nation by its Centennial in 2071,” concluded Al Tayer.

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