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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Saudi Arabia plans to spend 2bn riyal on new desalination plants

The kingdom plans to build 9 seawater desalination facilities in Jeddah on Red Sea coast

Saudi Arabia plans to spend 2 billion riyals to build nine seawater water desalination plants in Jeddah. Photo by Samar AlSayed
Saudi Arabia plans to spend 2 billion riyals to build nine seawater water desalination plants in Jeddah. Photo by Samar AlSayed

Saudi Arabia, the biggest economy in the Arabian Gulf region, plans to spend 2 billion riyals to build nine seawater water desalination plants in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah, the kingdom’s minister for environment, water and agriculture said.

The new plants will add a total capacity of 240,000 cubic meters of water per day, Abdulrahman Alfadley said in a statement on Thursday. Expected to be completed in less than 18 months, the project which is an initiative of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will incorporate latest technology that will boost production efficiency and cut operating and capital costs.

These plants “will have a significant impact on improving the quality and scope of water services”, Mr Alfadley said, “This year, we achieved a record with the addition of 1.4 million cubic meters of desalinated water in 13 months,” he noted.

Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), the government body that operates desalination plants and power stations in Saudi Arabia, has reached the capacity of 5 million cubic meters per day of desalinated water, making it the world’s largest producer.

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“Increasing the production of desalinated water from 3.5 to 5 million cubic meters per day is a great achievement for Saudi Arabia,” the statement cited the crown prince as saying during his visit to SWCC plant in Jeddah on Wednesday.

Water security is a key challenge for Saudi Arabia and the kingdom has invested heavily in seawater desalination. According to the Global Food Security Index 2015, 97 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s population has access to potable water, despite the harsh desert climate in the country with low annual rainfall, high evaporation rates and depleting groundwater reserves.

Saudi Arabia’s population grew by 2.52 per cent to 32.5 million at the end of 2017, up from 31.7 million in 2016, according to General Authority for Statistics figures released earlier this year.

The Makkah region near the Red Sea is the most populated area in the kingdom inhabited by 8.6 million people, followed by the Riyadh region with 8.2 million and the Eastern Province with 4.9 million people, according to the statement.