Saudi Arabia to unveil 60 water projects worth $9.33bn

The projects are expected to triple the kingdom's desalination capacity to 7.5 million cubic metres of water a day by 2027

Khaled Al Qureshi, chief executive of Saudi Water Partnership Company, speaking in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Mena Desalination Project Forum
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Saudi Arabia plans to introduce 60 water projects worth 35 billion Saudi riyals ($9.33bn) as the kingdom accelerates efforts to become the world's largest desalination market.

Once completed, the projects will nearly triple Saudi Arabia's desalination capacity to 7.5 million cubic metres of water a day by 2027, from 2.54 cubic metres per day in 2021.

“Saudi Arabia has been increasing its investment in clean energy, power and water. In the water sector, we have integrated the water desalination and wastewater treatment and have been expanding our capacities across the industry,” Khaled Al Qureshi, chief executive of Saudi Water Partnership Company (SWPC), said on Wednesday at the Mena Desalination Projects Forum 2022 in Abu Dhabi.

Saudi Arabia’s National Water Strategy, which was published in 2018, adopted a sustainable approach to the water sector and committed to safeguarding the kingdom’s natural resources and environment.

The Arab world's largest economy has been increasing the number of water projects over the past few years. In 2020, SWPC approved 11 independent water projects (IWPs) and nine independent sewage treatment projects, Mr Al Qureshi said.

[new par] Last year, the company approved eight IWPs, 14 Independent strategic water reservoir projects and seven small sewerage treatment plant (SSTP) project clusters.

An additional 60 water and sewerage projects will increase Saudi Arabia's water desalination capacity as well as increase "strategic water reserves and the capacity to treat more wastewater in the coming years”, Mr Al Qureshi said.

Saudi Arabia will need vast quantities of water as it embarks on a major diversification plan. The government has also been investing in new technology to desalinate seawater and in its overall water infrastructure.

“We are developing strategic water reserves that should supply enough water to Saudi consumers in case of emergency. By 2029, we plan to raise the capacity to hold 45.7 million cubic metres of water — that will serve the entire country for a few days, if the water supply stops for some reason," Mr Al Qureshi said.

Meanwhile, investment in desalination projects in the Middle East and North Africa region has increased substantially in recent years, accounting for 48 per cent of global desalination projects, according to the Mena Desalination Market report by Ventures Onsite.

Updated: March 16, 2022, 2:04 PM