Date: Abu Dhabi, UAE, January 2023: As 11 of the 17 most water-stressed countries in the world are based in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, more than 10 Ministers of the Arab countries will participate in the two-day Arab Water Convention scheduled to be held in February 20-21, 2023, at the Ritz-Carlton Dubai International Financial Centre in Dubai, UAE, to address the depleting water tables and impending water crisis in the Arab World and how to overcome those challenges.
Held under the patronage of the League of Arab States, the two-day event will be convened by Arab Water Council, with special focus on the non-conventional water resources. More than 600 officials, experts, delegates and leaders will listen to more than 60 speakers who will address critical regional water-related topics, including in-depth projection of future actions.
The Convention is also intended to timely bring all interested parties together to embark on implementing the COP27 outcomes. Governments, financial institutions, private sector and the civil society need to immediately engage in factual dialogues to address the subject.
According to the United Nations, around 40 percent of the world’s population is affected by water scarcity, while 80 percent of wastewater is discharged untreated into the environment, and more than 90 percent of disasters are water-related. As the Arab Region witnesses one of the highest rates of water scarcity and a very critical freshwater situation, Governments are increasing investments in water infrastructure.
As per data from BNC Network, more than 200 million people live under conditions of water scarcity and 160 million under absolute water scarcity. Nearly 87 million people in the region lack access to an improved drinking water source on premises and are required to collect water from public standpipes and sources, particularly women and girls.
“Over the past 30 years, the water table in the UAE has dropped about one meter per year. At the current rate, the UAE is projected to deplete its natural freshwater resources in about 50 years,” according to the World Bank.
Accordingly, development of the desalination projects will continue to be essential to social and economic development in the Gulf to meet the increasing water demand. Over 75 percent of worldwide desalinated water is in the Middle East and North Africa, 70 percent of which is in the GCC countries and 6 percent in Libya and Algeria. Collectively, Water Desalination Plant Projects in the MENA region are estimated at USD 39.3 Billion.
As highlighted by BNC Network, the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036 aims to reduce the demand for water resources, increase water productivity, increase water-use efficiency, and improve water quality by reducing pollution. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is also focusing on water infrastructure and has USD 14 billion water projects under construction.
“By 2030, the effects of climate change will also take a toll on the challenge of water security, possibly reducing renewable water resources by a further 20 percent. The Arab Water Convention proposes to foster crucial dialogue to promote cooperation and exchange of knowledge and perspectives, exchange of cutting-edge technologies, advanced applications, and successful practices,” says Prof. Mahmoud Abu-Zeid, President of Arab Water Council.
“Treated wastewater in the Arab region, which has reached around 10 billion m3/year, constitutes a significant renewable water source. Technical and technological efforts must be exerted to properly manage its use, whether in agriculture or in the artificial recharging of groundwater aquifers. There is a need to improve the quality of treated wastewater in order to overcome obstacles that limit its current use.
More than ever, the dialogue between different actors is now required for exploring pioneering solutions and for the mobilization of public and private actions in order to promote better water resource quality and ensure sustainability.”
Convened by the Arab Water Council to address a specific water priority issue in the Arab region, the Arab Water Convention is part of a series of regional events responding to the region’s rapidly changing water challenges. The aim of the Arab Water Convention is to provide a regional and international platform to exchange state-of-the-art technologies, advanced applications, and successful practices on a specific water priority issue in the Arab region which is facing rapidly changing water challenges.
Professor Mahmoud Abu-Zeid added, “Opportunities for new business models for non-conventional water resources will be disclosed. The world-class Water Expo, to be held on the sidelines of the Convention, will also be an additional chance to showcase the latest water-related technologies, innovative solutions, and equipment, hence enabling successful business transactions and interchange of knowledge and know-how.”
The 2023 Convention is dedicated to address the non-conventional water resources (NCWR) and the wealth of emerging opportunities for business and innovation the field of water resources management has to offer. The Convention will also be an exclusive opportunity to foster business connections with a wide spectrum of high-level industry executives, planners, decision-makers and public sector from different Arab countries and international partners. It will include a multi-stakeholder dialogue to promote the most efficient, adequate, and innovative technologies, exchange knowledge, share best practices, and ensure a qualified transfer of pilot experiences on emerging issues in the Arab region.
To achieve its objectives, the Arab Water Convention will address four critical themes including: Effective governance frameworks for the efficient use of non-conventional water resources; smart NCWR-business opportunities focusing, among others, on digital transformation and artificial intelligence; financing new bankable NCWR-business opportunities; and role of the private sector in promoting new NCWR-business opportunities.
The event, viewed as an accelerator for the uptake of NCWR in the region, targets Arab governmental representatives, international and regional organizations /donors, investors, finance and business stakeholders, decision-makers, industrial engineers, and specialists in different disciplines of water, food, and energy nexus in a changing climate. Gender empowerment and youth participation will be an important cross-cutting component of the Convention.
The Arab Water Convention is being organized and promoted by GM Events, a Dubai-based multi-faceted event management company of international repute, having organized numerous unique forums and exhibitions that highlight the issues faced by various economic sectors across the Arab region.