A new report commissioned by the World Future Energy Summit — the leading business event for future energy and sustainability which runs in Abu Dhabi this month — has highlighted desalination, wastewater treatment and digitisation as key growth opportunities for the Middle East’s water sector. The report, produced for World Future Energy Summit by business consultancy Frost & Sullivan, has identified Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Turkey as water sector growth hotspots.
The report says that despite the Middle East and Africa being the world’s desalination leader, with 48% of global operational capacity, there is still room for growth as the region battles with insufficient groundwater, low per capita water availability and growing water requirements. The report says the region will increasingly ditch high energy consuming thermal desalination technologies in favour of reverse-osmosis-based (RO) plants powered by renewables, including solar.
A high potential opportunity in the wastewater sector is identified as zero liquid discharge (ZLD) solutions, which enable the recovery of usable water and treated contaminants from wastewater before reducing it to solid waste without any harmful environmental impact.
The report forecasts compound annual growth of 8% in the Middle East’s ZLD market 2025, when it could account for up to US $100 million in revenue.
Opportunity Saudi Arabia:
The report points to huge private sector opportunities in Saudi Arabia, which is looking to address increasing water demand brought on by economic diversification, population growth and urbanisation. The country is investing heavily in wastewater treatment infrastructure to enable the recycling and reuse of water, with the Kingdom’s desalination capacity expected to grow to 7.5 million cubic metres per day by 2027 from its current capacity of just over 3 million cubic metres daily. In addition, the government is investing in 147 sewage treatment plants across the Kingdom and almost 15,000 kilometres of wastewater collection networks.
The UAE is also singled out for long-term growth due to its strong water sector project pipeline. The report says the country is expected to invest US $2.08 billion in the desalination segment to boost treated water reuse to 95%.
Turkey is battling with water stress due to inefficient water usage in sectors, including agriculture, which has led to over-abstraction of water resources. The report says the growing water stress is driving the country’s demand for water and wastewater treatment products and systems. Demand for recycling systems based on ZLD and RO technologies is predicted to meet the country’s development plan target of boosting wastewater reuse to 5% by the end of 2023.
The report comes ahead of the Water Expo and Forum, one of several specialised on-demand vertical events co-located with the World Future Energy Summit, part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and hosted by Masdar, which will run at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from January 16-18, 2023.
The Forum will be addressed by local, regional, and international experts who will confront the region’s pressing water sector challenges and look to blueprint its path to net zero through a series of presentations and panel discussions. It will be opened with a keynote address by His Excellency Eng. Yousif Al Ali, Assistant Undersecretary at the UAE’s Ministry of Environment and Infrastructure.
“All the issues identified in the Frost & Sullivan report will be addressed at the Forum, which is a vital knowledge resource for a sector facing unprecedented pressure,” commented Leen Al Sebai, Head of World Future Energy Summit and General Manager of RX Middle East, which organises the world-class event. The Middle East and North Africa is now the world’s most water-scarce region with only 1.4% of its freshwater resources. Yet the region, currently with 6.3% of the global population, is witnessing rapid population growth and increasing water demand. Countries throughout the region are looking urgently for technologies to increase supply, manage demand, and reduce long-term water pressures. The Water Forum will drive forward the global and regional water security conversation, while facilitating public and private sector business partnerships to enable innovation and sustainability in the region’s water sector.
The World Future Energy Summit is hosted by Masdar and is part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, a global platform for accelerating the world’s sustainable development. The event is also, for the first time ever, held in partnership with ENOWA.