The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) met this weekend to further discuss plans for a $1 billion USD unified regional water network, including discussing legal aspects and overall planning.
The meeting, led by Adnan Al-Muhaisin, CEO of the GCC Interconnection Authority, and Ahmed Al-Ibrahim, vice president for operations, also discussed the current feasibility study being carried out by international engineering, project management and consulting group Artelia.
The project, which has already been approved by all six GCC countries --Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- is expected to be completed by 2020.
The goal is to address water shortages in the region, similar to the way the GCC power grid prevented electricity cuts and even helped the member nations sell surplus power.
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.
Based on studies conducted by water agencies in the GCC, the project will require member countries to build desalination plants with water intakes located mainly on the shores of the Persian Gulf. The waters of the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea could also be used as sources.
The common network is also expected to help provide uniform desalination standards and specifications in all six countries.
The regional strategy includes a number of key desalination plants on Al Qamar Gulf in Yemen, as well as other projects. 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.
The Persian Gulf region is one of the most water scarce parts of the world. GCC countries are looking for ways to increase water production in order to meet the needs of a steadily growing population and development projects.
GCC nations have also announced plans to invest some $300 billion in water projects by 2022 to meet their growing demand.
Jordan, the fourth most water scarce country in the world, and Morocco have been invited to join the regional bloc, and Yemen, whose capital is expected to be the first national city to run out of water, is in negotiations to become a member, and hopes to join by 2015.