Saudi suspended world's largest desalination and power plant privatization due to pandemic -- official

Pandemic repercussions affected response of bidders to a project the size of Ras Al-Khair plant

  
General view of the world's largest desalination plant using modern hybrid desalination technology at the Saline Water Conversion Corporation's Ras al-Khair Power and Desalination Plant in Ras al-Khair, Saudi Arabia, October 8, 2020.

General view of the world's largest desalination plant using modern hybrid desalination technology at the Saline Water Conversion Corporation's Ras al-Khair Power and Desalination Plant in Ras al-Khair, Saudi Arabia, October 8, 2020.

REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has suspended the privatization of Ras Al Khair Desalination and Power Plant due to the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, which slowed the responses it got from bidders, National Center for Privatization & PPP CEO Rayyan Nagadi said.

“It is clear that the pandemic repercussions affected the response of companies in the world to a project of the size of the Ras Al-Khair plant,” he said.

Suspension of the world’s biggest desalination and power plant privatization was announced by the Privatization Supervisory Committee for the Environment, Water and Agriculture on Monday.

This decision was made to capitalize on knowledge and capacity built in the Kingdom as a result of many years of experience in the areas of water desalination, new technologies, R&D and supply chains, the committee said at the time.

Reaching the decision to cancel the project had passed through stages that took into account that the desalination assets had developed their own strategies for a long time, and the tender process began in the summer of 2020 through the development of studies, with the interest of local and international developers, he told Al Arabiya on Wednesday.

The country aims at launching such major projects with efficiency, and will resume privatization of other projects in other sectors, including the education sector, said Nagadi.

Several ministries are working on initiatives aimed at facilitating the process of establishing companies, and facilitating the process of participation from the private sector, all in the context of strengthening the privatization environment in the Kingdom, he said.

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