Singapore firms seek to enter GCC water market

Singapore is keen to bring its water resource management solutions to the second International Water Summit (IWS) in Abu Dhabi in January 2014.

At a workshop organised in association with Singapore Water Association (SWA), IWS delegates exchanged ideas and discussed business opportunities with 15 Singapore water companies for addressing water challenges of the world’s arid regions, including the Middle East.

Thriving economies, rising water demand and fresh-water scarcity issues of the Middle East are becoming a major concern for the region. It is estimated that total water demand of UAE’s capital city Abu Dhabi alone could grow to 123 per cent by 2030.

The reliance of most Gulf countries on desalination to produce 90 per cent or more of their drinking water is adding to costs and energy footprint of the countries. According to government statistics, the UAE produces 1.7bn cubic meters of desalinated water annually, in addition to 600mn cubic meters of treated wastewater which is mainly used for irrigation.

However, at present, 45 per cent of wastewater in Abu Dhabi is either discharged back into the sea or into the desert.

Ara Fernezian, Divisional Managing Director - UAE at Reed Exhibitions, said, “Improving cheaper and more environmentally viable options such as wastewater treatment technologies and wastewater reuse is essential.”

In its 2030 vision, Abu Dhabi Municipality includes plans for a more sustainable irrigation system, while Abu Dhabi’s environment authority, Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi has recently unveiled a new water management strategy and a work plan for 2014-2018. “Abu Dhabi is aggressively adopting an innovative integrated water management approach which is important for the sustainable development of the Emirate’s as well as region’s water infrastructure”, Fernezian added.

Outlining opportunities for Singapore’s water firms to partake in Abu Dhabi’s sustainable water resource management efforts, Fernezian added, “Singapore’s holistic approach to water resource management is one of the main reasons for the islands success in managing its water supply. The arid regions of the Middle East are seeking a similar multifold approach to water management and are investing heavily in water projects. The water and wastewater infrastructure market alone is valued at $9bn, a lucrative business opportunity for Singaporean companies to establish in Abu Dhabi and cater to the region’s needs.”

IWS 2014 is a global platform that hosts world leaders, government organizations, policymakers, public and private sector investors, business leaders, consultants and water experts to interact, negotiate and finalise plans to develop diverse and sustainable water portfolios in the GCC and other regions.

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