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Saudi Arabia produces 20% of global desalinated water, official says

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia produces around 20 percent of the world’s desalinated water, with 9 million cubic meters produced per day, the deputy minister of environment, water and agriculture said.

While speaking at the Future of Desalination International Conference in Riyadh on Sept. 12, Mansour Al-Mushaiti added that Saudi Arabia has desalinated seawater since the 1950s and is “the leading desalinated water producer in the world.”

He noted that the Kingdom now has reliable access to drinking water, of which 60 percent is desalinated. 

“The sustained development of our desalinated industry has provided this part (of the world) a constant technological innovation — from thermal to reverse osmosis, from ongoing enhancement in membrane technology to using renewable energy to run desalination plants.” 

Speaking of the government’s efforts in this regard, he said in 2002 the Kingdom created the Independent Water Power Producers and an official framework for private sector participation.

Saudi Arabia has also taken major steps toward improving the desalination sector’s efficiency, reliability and sustainability. 

Sharing the history and some of Saudi Arabia’s achievements in this sector, the deputy minister revealed that the Kingdom launched the initiative to desalinate water using solar energy in 2009. 

“In 2018, we successfully completed the world’s first large-scale water desalination plant powered by solar energy,” he said, adding that today they are working on other solutions, including the membrane technology.

Saudi Arabia launched Shuaibah Independent Water & Power Project, which is the first IWPP in the Kingdom to utilize the Flue Gas Desulphurization technology along with a low NOx burner and Electrostatic Precipitator. This is in full compliance with the World Bank emission requirement.

During the conference, the Kingdom’s Saline Water Conversion Corp. signed a cooperation agreement with Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research to localize and enhance cooperation in the desalination industry. 

Hosted by Saudi Arabia from Sept. 11-13 in Riyadh, the Future of Desalination International Conference aims to discuss opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in the desalination sector.

Many policymakers, developers, contractors, researchers and innovators will attend to discuss the sector’s future.

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