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«Water for Life». A Strategic Report on the GCC Countries. January 2013.


| GCC “Water for Life”

Water for Life. Title.

Water for Life (A Strategic Report on the GCC Countries)



Number of pages.

85 pages


The rapid growth of the GCC countries population, as well are increasing water needs for the oil & gas industry and the cooling systems in the Gulf Region, are putting existing water resources under serious pressure. The Gulf region has always shown that innovative solutions could provide reliable answers to water scarcity and allow local economic and social development. That’s the reason why members of the GCC are today heavily relying on water desalination for their fresh water. They are by far the world largest producers of desalinated water in the world. The following report aims at presenting Swiss companies a panel of those existing business opportunities. Analysis and market growth forecasts are provided country by country about the needs and the objectives of GCC local governments to alleviate the pressure existing on their water resources in terms of quantity and quality.



Franck Galland, CEO of Environmental Emergency & Security Services

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| GCC Water for Life

Contents 1.

Water: The Global Future Challenge


1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4

Global challenges International debate on how to tackle challenges Industry vs. State. Water a common good or a commercialized resource? State vs. State. Conflicts about water now and future (special reference to Middle East)

4 6 8 9


The GCC Countries: general overview on economic strengths and water weaknesses


2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6

Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Qatar Oman Kuwait Bahrain

12 14 17 18 20 21


The GCC countries: water supply and water demand management


3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6

Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Qatar Oman Kuwait Bahrain

23 31 35 40 42 46


Opportunities for Swiss companies in the GCC:


4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5

The municipal market The industrial market The smart irrigation and cooling market Competitive insights Projects under development

50 53 54 56 57


How to start Business in the Gulf Countries





6.1 6.2 6.3

Exhibitions, fairs and conferences 2011-2012 Useful addresses Sources consulted for this study

74 76 81


| GCC Water for Life

1. 1.1

Water: The Global Future Challenge Global challenges

Pressure on water resources is increasing around the world and affects surface water and groundwater. At the same time, competition for water (between countries or between domestic users) is becoming an additional factor of social and political instability, both domestically and regionally. Firstly, this is due to the increase in water demand, linked to world population growth and water-related use such as domestic and agricultural water. At the same time, per capita water consumption is rising, as it supports the improvement of living standards or even the mere connection to networks, for drinking water or irrigation purposes. Cities, with their population centres, concentrate demand and pollution, and thus exercise great ecological pressure on the neighbouring environment. Secondly, the increase in water demand is compounded by the decreasing availability of water resources in most major hydraulic basins, either because of deterioration in quality (pollution) or quantity (climate change, aquifer depletion, change in precipitation regime). Even the wettest areas on the earth, such as the Amazon basin, suffered periods of drought in 2005 and 2010. This drop in availability immediately and appreciably affects not only surface water, but also groundwater which is the main source of water for the Gulf countries. The global challenges for a sustainable management of water resources are directly linked to the primary drivers of the pressures affecting water demand and availability. Agriculture: The increase in agricultural production as a consequence of the green revolution has had the greatest impact on water consumption. Agriculture represents 90% of world fresh water consumption and 70% of withdrawals. This sector is, at the same time, the one in which the greatest progress is expected and is yet the most difficult to reform. Agriculture has many dimensions: social (providing work and ultimate protection against extreme poverty), political (social stability), economic (% of agriculture in the downstream states’ GDP). However the emergency is now to adapt regionalagriculture water demand to water availability. The main challenge in this area is how to feed the current and future populations in a context of water scarcity? Agriculture and its attendant social dimension stand at the heart of tensions. Because of that social dimension, any alteration to the agricultural sector due to the lack of water may lead to internal social and political instability. With this in mind, Saudi Arabia’s agriculture seems to be particularly vulnerable, due to the limited horizon of fossil water exploitation.


| GCC Water for Life

Osec-Marktstudie: Water for Life