Prof. Waleed Zubari, Professor of Water Resources at the Arabian Gulf University (AGU), is participating in a webinar to be organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on Tuesday (January 30, 2024) as part of the activities of the Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme.
Held in Cairo under the patronage of Dr Hani Sewilam, Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, the webinar is held under the title “Towards Affordable and Sustainable Water Desalination in the Arab Region”.
During the activity, a regional initiative will be launched, led by the UNESCO Regional Office in Cairo and commissioned by the Arab Ministerial Water Council, to establish the International Water Programme. Specialised participants will strive to provide advice to Arab member states on low-cost water desalination solutions designed to meet their needs.
Several water resources experts from the Arab world will participate in the webinar to deepen research and discussion on reducing water desalination costs, exploring more environmentally friendly desalination methods and formulating recommendations for policymakers. The event also aims to strengthen regional cooperation and develop a strategic vision to overcome the complexities of sustainable water desalination in the Arab region.
Moreover, the webinar addresses the urgent and deeply-rooted water scarcity crisis in the Arab region, exacerbated by factors such as low rainfall, high temperatures and population growth. The region faces difficulties in unsustainably extracting water, especially from underground sources. The challenges are further compounded by the detrimental effects of climate change, desertification and loss of biodiversity.
On this occasion, Prof. Zubari explained that these factors make the Arab countries among the most affected in the world, clarifying that many Arab countries, especially those in the GCC, which are the driest in the region and lack natural water resources, have turned to non-traditional water resources in response, such as water desalination, with the aim to bridge the widening gap between supply and demand for water.
Prof. Zubari noted to the relatively high financial, economic and environmental costs associated with desalination, stressing that efforts should be made to make desalination sustainable and affordable.
“Governments, academics and the private sector should focus on reducing these costs in the next stage. It is also important to localise these technologies in the region and establish a desalination industry that contributes to the economy and provides a high level of water security and sustainability,” he added.