According to a recent report titled the ‘MENA Desalination Market’ by Ventures ONSITE, 48 per cent of the world’s water desalination projects are taking place in the Middle East and North Africa. Investment in this type of technology has increased ‘substantially’ and further expenses are expected to reach around US$4.3 billion by 2022.
The Middle East is one of the most water-stressed areas in the world, where desalination contributes more than 90 per cent of all daily water requirements.
The report goes on to highlight that Saudi Arabia is responsible for around one-fifth of global production, generating some four million cubic metres of desalinated water per day, making it the largest desalination market in the world. According to Ventures ONSITE, the country is expected to invest US$80 billion in new projects over the next decade.
According to Gulf Business, some of the most important current desalination projects in Saudi Arabia include the construction of ‘solar dome’ desalination plants in Neom, a planned cross-border city in the north-western part of the Kingdom that will reportedly process potable water more cheaply than conventional plants at 34 cents per cubic meter.
The United Arab Emirates is also working on major desalination projects. Abu Dhabi’s Taweelah plant, scheduled to commence full commercial operations in Q4 2022, is expected to have a capacity of over 900,000 cubic metres of water per day and will meet the water demands of over 350,000 households. It will be 44 per cent bigger than the world’s current largest reverse osmosis plant.
The UAE is also currently working on the Jebel Ali plant complex, to open in Q2 2020, with a capacity of 150,000 cubic metres of water per day. And the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority is constructing a desalination facility with a daily capacity of 60 million Imperial gallons (MIGD), which is expected to open in 2022.
The report also found that seawater desalination capacity of GCC countries is expected to grow by at least 37 per cent in the following five years with investments of up to as much as $100 billion by 2020.