Last Updated: Mon Jan 23, 2012 16:26 pm (KSA) 13:26 pm (GMT)

Saudi Arabia, UAE lead the world in consumption of water

Water-intensive projects in Gulf states have made residents think water is not scarce in the region, a report has found. (File photo)
Water-intensive projects in Gulf states have made residents think water is not scarce in the region, a report has found. (File photo)

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates consume more water per capita than the global average, according to new report which claimed that Gulf residents “disregard the consequences of their water usage.”

Saudi Arabia was found to consume 91 percent more than the global average of water consumption, while the UAE consumed 83 percent more – about six times more than that used in the UK – the report by consultancy Booz and Company found.

“There is a general lack of awareness in the region, largely because of subsidies that disguise actual costs and obscure the severity of the situation,” Dr. Walid Fayad, a Beirut-based partner in Booz & Company’s energy, chemicals and utilities practice, said in a statement.

The only way this will change is if people understand there is a problem and become part of the solution, he added.

Stricter regulations about the efficiency of everyday fixtures including faucets, showerheads and toilets would underscore the importance of conservation, Fayad suggested.

Water desalination, the removal of salt from seawater to make drinking water, has played a large part in the region’s usage excesses. Some two-thirds of water used in the region is desalinated, costing $1 per cubic meter to produce and consuming eight times more energy than groundwater projects. This has accounted for ten to 20 percent energy consumption, the report stated.

It also said that green golf courses and grassy parks make residents think that
water is not scarce in the region.

This comes at a time when Middle East governments are facing worries of water shortages and overuse as the most water scare region in the world due to sparse rainfall and arid climates.

The region, made up of 22 Arab countries, account for 6.3 percent of the world’s population, but only 1.4 percent of its fresh water supply.

Oil price surge?

In 2011, the Water Security Risk Index found the future stability of water supplies across Gulf countries, including Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were rated “extreme risk,” while Qatar was rated “high risk.”

This has also raised concerns that the disruption to water supplies could lead to higher oil prices from these top oil-exporting countries, because large amounts of water are used in the oil production process.

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