CAIRO Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Eng. Abdul Rahman Al-Fadli revealed that Saudi Arabia has started carrying out feasibility studies for building 1,000 new dams in different regions of the Kingdom. The new projects will take the total number of dams in the country to 1,564.

In a speech, delivered on his behalf by Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Shaibani, deputy minister for water, during the launch of the Arabic version of the World Water Development Report on the sidelines of the Cairo Water Week on Tuesday, Al-Fadli said that the new dams will increase the total storage capacity of dams to more than 2.6 billion cubic meters.

“This will serve various purposes such as feeding water-bearing layers and irrigation operations, preventing floods, and filling part of the need for urban use. Around 46 water purification plants are being built on a number of dams with a production capacity of 740,000 cubic meters per day and these are meant to use for drinking water supplies in a number of regions of the Kingdom,” he said.

The minister stressed the need for countries with arid environments to exert more efforts to confront water challenges.

“The World Water Development Report emphasized the value and importance of water, especially for countries with arid environments that suffer from water scarcity and water deficit. The most prominent feature of the report is its comprehensiveness in terms of geographical coverage as it deals with vital issues related to the water sector in general and the most important challenges facing the sector in particular,” he said.

Al-Fadli said the report contained all concerns and shortcomings in the water sector, especially in areas suffering from scarcity of water resources, as it is the case with most Arab countries that are located within the arid regions of the world.

“Hence it is required more efforts to confront water challenges from the necessary studies, valuing the sector, rehabilitating the infrastructure, employing available opportunities, and exploiting energy and industry, which makes it possible to overcome these challenges,” he said.

The minister noted that the Kingdom is one of the driest and scarce regions of water resources in the world, lacking permanent flowing rivers, and most of the used water comes from non-renewable groundwater (fossil water).

“The water sector has received unlimited attention and support from the wise leadership, which approved the necessary strategies and plans for the sustainability of water resources, by implementing giant water projects such as wellfields, desalination plants, dams, strategic storage facilities, and transmission and distribution lines," the minister said.

Al-Fadli said the ministry seeks to excel in developing and implementing comprehensive policies, effective strategies, and upgrading services through the participation of the private sector and relevant authorities to achieve prosperity and sustainability in the environment, water and agriculture.

“The Kingdom is interested in discussing the issues and challenges of the water sector at the international and Arab levels, as well as the most important success stories and best practices implemented by countries to overcome the challenges facing the water supply chain. The Kingdom is also keen on adopting the establishment of the G20 Water Platform to highlight the most important of these successes and practices,” he said.

The minister also noted that the Kingdom’s interest was evident in its proposal at the level of the Arab world, when the Arab Ministerial Council for Water convened, to establish the Arab Center for Water Economics, which is still under the phase of discussion.


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