Water supply and sanitation in Saudi Arabia is characterised by challenges and achievements, including water scarcity. In order to overcome these challenges, substantial investments have already been made in water distribution, sewerage, wastewater treatment and seawater desalination.

There are currently 27 desalination water plants in Saudi Arabia. Approximately 50% of drinking water comes from desalination; 40% comes from non-renewable groundwater and a mere 10% comes from surface water in the mountainous South-West of the country.

Desalinated water is currently pumped around 467 km from the Persian Gulf to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, which is situated in the heart of the country. Weak institutional capacity and governance also form part of the challenges.

A recent memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Saline Water Conversion (SWCC) and Hydrochem Saudi, a division of Singapore-based water and energy solutions provider Hyflux, will see three seawater reverse osmosis desalination plants developed in Saudi Arabia.

The MOU signing ceremony took place at an industry conference held in Riyadh, and was witnessed by Singapore’s Minister of Environment and Water Resources, Masagos Zulkifli and Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture of Saudi Arabia, Abdulrahman Abdulmohsen Al-Fadhli.

According to the terms of the MoU, Hyflux is set to design, construct, supply, test and commission the plants in Duba, Haql and Wajh, on the Red Sea coast in the western region of the country. The combined estimate for the plants is around $180m. The plants will make use of reverse osmosis to convert the seawater into potable water, and each plant will have a capacity of 16,000 cubic metres per day.

Hyflux has operations and projects in Africa, China, India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the Americas and projects include a water recycling plant in Singapore and seawater reverse osmosis desalination plants in Algeria, China and Singapore.

Construction on the project, which will offer new solutions for resource optimisation and growth and address challenges at every point of the entire water value chain, will begin soon.

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