The 5th Arab Water Forum takes off with 22 Arab countries

Under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure and convened by the Arab Water Council, supported by the League of Arab States and the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, in collaboration with national, regional and international partners, the 5th edition of the three-day Arab Water Forum examines the critical water security issues in the Arab World - participated by 25 Ministers, Undersecretaries, Government officials, private business agents and water technology experts to find innovative solutions to the water cause in the Arab Region

H.E. Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, Speaks at the 5th Arab Water Forum at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Tuesday

H.E. Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, Speaks at the 5th Arab Water Forum at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on Tuesday

Dubai, UAE: The 5th Arab Water Forum (AWF5) took off today at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dubai, UAE, with more than 600 delegates and participants from 22 Arab countries pledging their strong commitment to water security for peace and sustainable development in the Arab World.

The three-day Arab Water Forum focuses on water scarcity in the Arab World, depleting water resources and ways and means to generate water from sustainable sources, in line with the Forum theme – Arab Water Security for Peace and Sustainable Development.

Held under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure and supported by the League of Arab States (LAS) and the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation of Egypt (MWRI), in cooperation with national, regional and international partners, the three-day triennial Forum is hosting 25 Government Ministers and Undersecretaries representing 22 Arab countries, high government officials, businessmen, public and private sector organisations where more than 40 experts and top-notch professionals have assembled to discuss water scarcity and sustainable development across the region.

The 5th Arab Water Forum was officially inaugurated by H.E. Prof. Mahmoud Abu Zeid, President of the Arab Water Council; H.E. Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure; H.E. Mohamed Adel Atty, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation (MWRI), Egypt; H.E. Serigne Mbaye Thiam, Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senegal – the host country of the 9th World Water Forum to be held in March 2022; H.E. Mr. Loïc Fauchon, President of the World Water Council (WWC) and H.E. Dr. Ahmed Abul Gheit, Secretary-General, League of Arab States (LAS).

“The Arab Water Forum is a leading platform for cooperation and collaboration to support the water sector and strengthen efforts to address challenges related to water scarcity. Water is an essential pillar of sustainability, which makes it a strategic priority of the UAE,” HE Eng. Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, said in his keynote speech.

“The forum constitutes a leading platform for cooperation and collaboration to support the water sector, and to accelerate efforts to address the challenges related to it, as it is of vital importance to sustainable development, and a factor central to achieving the social, economic and environmental goals and objectives associated with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.” The Minister pointed out that this forum is gaining a special status for the UAE, as it coincides with the announcement of the ‘Projects of the 50’ (50th Anniversary of the formation of the UAE Federation) package and ahead of the launch of Expo 2020 – a mega global event – starting next month. HE Suhail Al Mazrouei added: “The water-related challenges will become more tough in light of the growing demand for water and the scarcity of resources, especially in our Arab region in the coming years. The worsening global climate change and the increase in future demand for water have forced us to undertake more initiatives, dialogue, reflection and joint work to build future capabilities to meet these challenges and overcome. From the Arab Water Forum platform, we reaffirm our strong commitment to continue our efforts to enhance regional and international cooperation in water-related activities and programmes.”  Pointing out that the UAE has made qualitative contributions in the field of international cooperation and providing development assistance related to water and sanitation to countries in need, the Minister said, the UAE has disbursed nearly Dh3 billion in aid from 2015 to 2020. He announced that the UAE is developing three new water desalination projects in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Umm Al Quwain with combined capacity of 420 million imperial gallons of water per day that will support the sustainability of the water sector in the UAE. These will raise the total installed capacity to 1,590 million imperial gallons per day when completed by 2023.

The 5th Arab Water Forum was graced by the participation of a number Ministers, Under-Secretaries and high officials with HE Eng. Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, leading the list of the dignitaries that include H.E. Dr. Mohamed Abdel-Aty, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation of Egypt; Eng. Wael Bin Nasser Al Mubarak, Minister of Electricity and Water Affairs, Bahrain; Mr. Loic Fauchon, President of the World Water Council (WWC); H.E. Mr. Serigne Mbaye Thiam, Minister of Water and Sanitation of Senegal; H.E. Prof. Mahmoud Abu-Zeid, President of the Arab Water Council (AWC); H.E. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General, League of Arab States (LAS); Ahmed bin Abdullah al Shuhi, Minister of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, Oman; Dr Khaled Al Fadel, Ministry of Electricity and Water, Kuwait; Eng. Raed Abu Soud, Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Jordan; Ali Hammam, Ministry of Water Resources, Algeria; Aziz Rebbah, Ministry of Energy, Mines and Environment, Morocco; Samir Taieb, Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, Tunisia; among other senior officials.

The high-profile conference is being supported by the Arab League and the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation of Egypt (MWRI), in collaboration with national, regional and international partners.

Prof. Dr. Mahmoud Abu Zeid, President of the Arab Water Council, said, “The central theme of the Fifth Arab Water Forum this year – Arab Water Security for Peace and Sustainable Development – attaches special importance to the desired global and international cooperation, which we look forward to in order to reach sustainable Arab water security and real sustainable development for our Arab societies, which have recently gone through the highest rates of political turmoil, displacement and asylum globally. This turmoil came as one of the results of the growing demand for natural resources with the weakness and limited resources, which threatens the security and political stability of the Arab region.”

He said, water scarcity constitutes a major challenge to sustainable development in the Arab World, that affects water security, food security, economic development, energy security, livelihoods and human health.  “Given that the bulk of the renewable water resources in the region Arabia needs cross-border cooperation to meet the increasing challenges of water scarcity, population increase, frequent droughts, worsening effects of climate change, natural disasters and epidemics in the region, that results in growing poverty and food insecurity,” he said.  “Hence, enhancing cooperation with regard to water and developing its resources is a vital matter and an urgent necessity to achieve water security and sustainable development for peoples. This goal will not be achieved except through full coordination between regional, national and local policies among all relevant sectors and at the global level among other global plans related to water and national goals and objectives.”

Under the theme, Arab Water Security for Peace and Sustainable Development, the forum addresses three main areas of concern: Arab water security, cross-border cooperation in the field of shared water, and water for sustainable development. The forum will also include many different discussion topics and scientific sessions, as well as dealing with the means and tools related to each axis.

More than 50 exhibitors displaying the latest technology and innovation in water-related aspects, including desalination and production of pure drinking water, as well as utility companies, municipalities and suppliers will showcase their products in the three-day Water Forum Expo.

Loïc Fauchon, President of the World Water Council, said, “From the Strait of Gibraltar to the Sultanate of Oman, from Jordan to Sudan, from the West to the East and from the North to the South, the Arab countries are facing a shortage of resources and frequent water stress which is slowing down their development and creating unbearable tensions.

“So, how can we guarantee water security for more than half a billion people in this region? How do we ensure water security to promote sustainable peace and equitable development?”

He said, the solutions cannot be found without a shared understanding of the causes of the tensions over water resources and their use. “Firstly, there is the aridity of the soil common to almost all Arab countries. This age-old aridity comes from ancient times. If the Koran praises the sweetness of the flowing spring, it also speaks of the severity of the draught and the need to share,” Loïc Fauchon said.

“Many Arab countries have seen their populations double or even triple since the middle of the 20th century. The growth first affected the countryside, then gave way, as in the rest of the world, to a disorderly, uncontrolled urbanisation. Finally, there are the future effects of climate evolution. In some cases, there will be a decrease in resources, and in others, more abundant rainfall. These effects are still unclear, but it is certain that they will disrupt our desire to achieve water security.

“In the Arab countries as in the rest of the world, the future of water depends on the balance between supply and demand. We know that we need to "produce" more water and consume less. Producing more means increasing the availability of water in time and space. Pumping deeper, transferring over greater and greater distances. This is what we have been doing for a long time. But this is no longer sufficient, the aquifers are running out and large-scale transfers are increasingly costly and fragile from a security point of view.”

New solutions have appeared more recently to deal with the scarcity of the resource, he added. Desalination of sea water: the Arab countries were pioneers in this field.

“Can you imagine that today, around 20,000 desalination treatment plants are functioning all over the world, with 30 percent of which are in the Arabic countries?” he says. “And most of them are using it, both to generate energy and for domestic and industrial uses. Thanks to the reverse osmosis process, costs have been step by step reduced. The only major drawback is that saline and brine discharges create problems for biodiversity when they deposit on land or on shallow coasts.”

The Arab Forum takes place as the region grapples with water scarcity that has reached a critical level with increased demand for clean water due to growing population. The Middle East and North Africa is home to 6 percent of the world’s population and less than 2 percent of the world’s renewable water supply, according to the World Bank.

It is the world’s driest region hosting 12 of the world’s most water scarce countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Libya, Oman, the Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

On average, the water per capita share is as low as 1,200 cubic meters, which is around one-sixth of the worldwide average of 7,000 cubic meters. Most Arab countries cannot sustainably meet their current water demand. “With population growth and increased demand, water availability per capita is expected to be halved by 2050,” as referenced by a World Bank report.

The 2021 edition of the Arab Water Forum features three days of keynote speeches, plenary and panel sessions, cross-cutting sessions, scientific sessions, and an Arab Water Expo, along with plenty of opportunities for networking.

Some of the key topics that are being addressed in panel discussions include, Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus; Climate Change Impact on Arab Water Security; Water Desalination as a Strategic Option for Sustainable Arab Water Security; Sharing Water and Benefits for Peace and Development; Effective Water Governance Towards Achieving Peace and Stability; Hydro Diplomacy and Water Politics in Transboundary Water Management; Riparian Partnerships in Developing and Managing shared Water Resources and Governing Laws.

Following the inauguration, the experts and panelist sharpened their focus on a number of important topics on the first day, including: Water Security in The Mediterranean Region: Sustainable Water Reuse Strategies in Agriculture - Case Studies and Regional Perspectives; Climate and Water Security in the Arab Region: From Words to Action; Water Desalination as a Strategic Option for Sustainable Arab Water Security; Investing in Small Scale Irrigation Schemes Versus Large Scale Irrigation Projects: Challenges and Opportunities and Egypt’s Water and Sanitation Sector: Overview and Strategic Future Vision as well as Arab Water Security. The Arab Water Council Board of Governors also meets to push its programme of action.

Partners of the Arab Water Forum have expressed their satisfaction with the overall organisation of this prestigious event.

Frederic Claux, Managing Director Thermal and Supply, ENGIE Africa Middle East Asia and CEO for GCC and Pakistan, “ENGIE is delighted to be a gold sponsor of the 5th Arab Water Forum. The event is an opportunity for the water industry leaders to connect and develop business opportunities, exchange ideas, and share knowledge about the water industry for a more sustainable future. As one of the leading desalinated water producers in the GCC, ENGIE will be showcasing its expertise and solutions to make sustainable desalinated water available to the wider community.”

Ahmed Mahraz, Finance Admin Officer at Saur, said, “We are thrilled to share with you one of Saur’s unique industrial experiences in water territory management. Water reuse at the transboundary river Nile.”

A spokesperson from Contec Global, said, “At Beyond Water we are on a mission to help the world become net producers of water for the greater good of communities, economies and our planet. We are delighted to be invited to the Arab Water Forum to share our technology and successes having produced over 100 million litres of water and saved 200 million more.”

The 5th Arab Water Forum is a product of more than a year-and-a-half of collaborative effort and preparations with stakeholders from all Arab region including policy-makers, multilateral specialized institutions, academia, civil society and the private sector, among others. Under the overarching theme, “Arab Water Security for Peace and Sustainable Development”, the 5th AWF is intended to address three main priorities: Arab Water Security; Transboundary Water Cooperation and Water for Sustainable Development including about 14 different topics as well as cross cutting Means andTools.

Each priority and topic has been carefully developed, in collaboration with regional partners, government representatives, NGOs, professional networks and academic groups into a common framework of goals and concrete targets. The Forum is expected to achieve collective action and positive response that will influence the desired change by bridging the science-policy interface. The Forum will also include a parallel track with several Scientific Sessions and Dialogues.

AWF5 is organised 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.


About Arab Water Forum

The series of triennial Arab Water Fora (AWF) is considered one of the most important water-related events in the Arab region. The Forum connects over 800+ water sector professionals, innovators and decision-makers from across 22 Arab Countries and partners as well as international collaborators,to discuss imminent water challenges and effective solutions to be tackled in the Arab region.

Over the years, the number of people participating in the Forum has increased from both the international community and Arab countries.

The 5th edition of AWF will be convened by the Arab Water Council during the period 21 – 23 September 2021 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Dubai under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure and supported by the League of Arab States (LAS) and the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation of Egypt (MWRI), in collaboration with national, regional and international partners.

Providing a unique platform for communication, the 5th AWF is considered the stage where Arab water community leaders and key decision-makers thoroughly discuss water challenges that the Arab region is facing, being one of the most water-scarce regions in the world.

The Forum also represents an important milestone in the run-up to the World Water Forum (WWF) and a meeting point for stakeholders who wish to be involved in the Arab regional process to reflect the voice of the Arab region in the WWF, promoting priority areas for development in key water related sectors and mobilizing key actions towards achieving water security for the Arab region.

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