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GCC Countries Consider Building Desalination Plants in Yemen

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are studying the feasibility of building a number of major desalination plants on Al Qamar Gulf in Yemen, according to officials in the region.

The multi-billion dollar projects would be part of a major natural gas development.

“A Yemeni team discussed the project in Riyadh last month, and it will travel to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates to finalize details of the major project,” said Adel al Bekeili, Yemen’s representative in the Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

“The project, which consists of gas, desalination and transportation elements, will create around 4 million jobs for Yemenis over 10 years,” Al Bekeili said.

Yemeni and GCC officials say salinity in Al Qamar Gulf is much lower than in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, which means the cost of desalinating its water will be lower.

GCC countries are looking to increase desalinated water production to meet soaring demand in the arid region.

The organization is currently looking into establishing a common water network. Some member countries have surplus water production that can be exported to their neighbors. Qatar, for example, has a surplus of around 20 to 30 percent of its water production.

GCC countries depend mainly on desalinated water; they account for 40 percent of total global production.

By building joint projects with GCC countries, Yemen hopes to gain full membership in the organization by 2019.

The project would also provide a lifeline for the Yemeni economy, which is on verge of collapse following the popular uprising that toppled former President Ali Abdallah Saleh.

A conference held by the Friends of Yemen in Riyadh last year agreed to allocate $4 billion USD to keep the Yemeni economy alive.