Arab Water Forum brings Air-to-Water Technology that could Solve Water Shortage and change the Arab World

Air-to-water technology, that produces water from fresh air, is currently available in Dubai for as low as US$1,000 (Dh3,670) for deployment at homes, offices, hotels and shopping malls – that could reduce dependence on desalinated water and save energy, officials at the 5th Arab Water Forum said.

If marketed properly, these machines could disrupt the pure drinking water and mineral water market and gradually eliminate the use of plastic bottles and reduce the consumption of desalinated water. According to the latest IDA Desalination Yearbook, in the first half of 2017, the water sector produced 99,758 billion m3/day of desalinated water throughout the planet.

Around 20,000 desalination treatment plants are functioning all over the world, 30 percent of which are in the Arab world. Investment in water and sanitation projects in the MENA region is expected to reach $133.2 billion, of which $19.1 billion have already been spent in 2019 and $30.8 billion in 2020, according to research. H.E. Engineer Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, yesterday announced the development of three new desalination projects, with combined capacity to produce 420 million imperial gallons per day (MIGD).

“The water-related challenges will become more tough in light of the growing demand for water and the scarcity of resources, especially in our Arab region in the coming years,” HE Suhail Al Mazrouei said.

“The worsening global climate change and the increase in future demand for water have forced us to undertake more initiatives, dialogue, reflection and joint work to build future capabilities to meet these challenges and overcome. From the Arab Water Forum platform, we reaffirm our strong commitment to continue our efforts to enhance regional and international cooperation in water-related activities and programmes.”

Drinkable air, or water produced from air is currently available for commercial and industrial use in the UAE. The technology, which has been there for some time, has been perfected by companies through massive research and development programme, with enrichment in water quality and reduction in price which. Barring the electricity cost and the price of the machine, the water is freely produced.

Indian manufacturer of Airowater which is offering a 25-litre water vending machine for US$1,000 in the UAE, has been producing water from air since 2011. It has a local presence in the UAE.

“We have spent lots of resources to perfect the technology and have achieved a price point of Rs1.5-Rs2 per litre of water, down from Rs30 per litre when we started production initially in 2011. The water produced through the machine is pure, enriched through ozonisation process with oxidents and healthy minerals – better than the mineral water that are available in the market – for free,” Palak Shah, Vice President at Airowater.

“On of the most important aspect is that there is no use of plastic in the process. The whole machine is built with metal and the water container is pure stainless steel. So, the water remains pure with all the healthy ingredients.

“We started marketing our products a few months ago, after receiving Dubai Municipality certificate in July this year. So far, we have sold 100 units.”

The 25-litre machine is good for home and small office use, with no maintenance cost, except for the replacement of filters and consumables – that are supported by the manufacturers for a charge.

“In terms of cost per litre, the air-to-water costs less than the bottled water available in the market. We are currently offering the machine and one-year service for US$1,200.”

Rahul Mathur, CEO of International Operations at Airowater, said, “Our ultimate objective is to give back to the community to a sustainable business model with high-efficient, low-cost water to the society and to take this to some of the most challenging parts of the world where water is scarce.

Five companies, Airowater, Terrafic Energy, Eshara Water, Beyond Water and Watergen – are currently displaying the technology with machines that are producing water from air live at the Arab Water Forum – that are being consumed by delegates at the three-day exhibition and conference.

5th Arab Water Forum (AWF5) that took off on Tuesday at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dubai, UAE, with more than 600 delegates and participants from 22 Arab countries pledging their strong commitment to water security for peace and sustainable development in the Arab World.

The three-day Arab Water Forum focuses on water scarcity in the Arab World, depleting water resources and ways and means to generate water from sustainable sources, in line with the Forum theme – Arab Water Security for Peace and Sustainable Development.

The Arab Forum takes place as the region grapples with water scarcity that has reached a critical level with increased demand for clean water due to growing population. The Middle East and North Africa is home to 6 percent of the world’s population and less than 2 percent of the world’s renewable water supply, according to the World Bank.

It is the world’s driest region hosting 12 of the world’s most water scarce countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Libya, Oman, the Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

On average, the water per capita share is as low as 1,200 cubic meters, which is around one-sixth of the worldwide average of 7,000 cubic meters. Most Arab countries cannot sustainably meet their current water demand. “With population growth and increased demand, water availability per capita is expected to be halved by 2050,” as referenced by a World Bank report.

“Drinkable water is the perfect example of sustainability and how we could solve the crucial problem of natural water scarcity in the Arab World,” Nathalie Poirier, Chief Executive Officer of Terrafic Energy, a UAE-based company formed in 2020 – to bring sustainable products and solutions in the Middle East.

“These products and solutions could change our world drastically and save the environment. In addition to Drinkable Air – a US product, we are bringing many energy-efficient and sustainable products, that, if bought and used by masses, will reduce carbon footprint and make our life and environment more sustainable.”

She said, a customer can get return on investment in 1.5 years – the acquisition cost of the machine – and enjoy free water for the rest of the period – for at least 10 years!

“Our calculation puts the cost of water to Dh0.10 fils per litre – lowest than any other bottled water supplied to homes or offices by vendors, not to mention the health benefits,” Nathalie Poirier says.

The Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security indicate for every 100,000 one-litre plastic bottles a consumer eliminates, he saves 5,844 kilogrammes of plastic waste, 17,532 kilogrammes of Carbon Emissions, 104 barrels of oil and 300,000 litres of water used in the manufacturing process!

The technology offers clean and healthy water with zero waste and the machine can run on renewable energy – that makes it environment friendly.

The air-to-water technology comes to Dubai at a time just before the opening of Expo 2020 – the largest global event in the Middle East with sustainability at its core.

Lee Brett, Chief Business Officer at Beyond Water, says, “There are six times more water in the air then all the water that flows through all the rivers and 1 percent of that is enough to hydrate the world. Through our technology, we can guarantee Arab water security.

“With this technology, we can produce vegetables in the desert at any time – with water produced from air – and create green vegetation in the arid desert climate in the Arab World, providing food security in addition to water security!”

He said, his company is talking to governments to gain their interest in the new technology that could change the Arab World.

Held under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure and supported by the League of Arab States (LAS) and the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation of Egypt (MWRI), in cooperation with national, regional and international partners, the three-day triennial Forum is hosting 25 Government Ministers and Undersecretaries representing 22 Arab countries, high government officials, businessmen, public and private sector organisations where more than 40 experts and top-notch professionals have assembled to discuss water scarcity and sustainable development across the region.

Prof. Dr. Mahmoud Abu Zeid, President of the Arab Water Council, said water scarcity constitutes a major challenge to sustainable development in the Arab World, that affects water security, food security, economic development, energy security, livelihoods and human health.

“Given that the bulk of the renewable water resources in the region Arabia needs cross-border cooperation to meet the increasing challenges of water scarcity, population increase, frequent droughts, worsening effects of climate change, natural disasters and epidemics in the region, that results in growing poverty and food insecurity,” he said.

“Hence, enhancing cooperation with regard to water and developing its resources is a vital matter and an urgent necessity to achieve water security and sustainable development for peoples. This goal will not be achieved except through full coordination between regional, national and local policies among all relevant sectors and at the global level among other global plans related to water and national goals and objectives.”

Under the theme, Arab Water Security for Peace and Sustainable Development, the forum addresses three main areas of concern: Arab water security, cross-border cooperation in the field of shared water, and water for sustainable development. The forum will also include many different discussion topics and scientific sessions, as well as dealing with the means and tools related to each axis.

More than 50 exhibitors displaying the latest technology and innovation in water-related aspects, including desalination and production of pure drinking water, as well as utility companies, municipalities and suppliers will showcase their products in the three-day Water Forum Expo.

Loïc Fauchon, President of the World Water Council, said, “In the Arab countries as in the rest of the world, the future of water depends on the balance between supply and demand. We know that we need to “produce” more water and consume less. Producing more means increasing the availability of water in time and space. Pumping deeper, transferring over greater and greater distances. This is what we have been doing for a long time. But this is no longer sufficient, the aquifers are running out and large-scale transfers are increasingly costly and fragile from a security point of view.”

The 2021 edition of the Arab Water Forum features three days of keynote speeches, plenary and panel sessions, cross-cutting sessions, scientific sessions, and an Arab Water Expo, along with plenty of opportunities for networking.

Some of the key topics that are being addressed in panel discussions include, Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus; Climate Change Impact on Arab Water Security; Water Desalination as a Strategic Option for Sustainable Arab Water Security; Sharing Water and Benefits for Peace and Development; Effective Water Governance Towards Achieving Peace and Stability; Hydro Diplomacy and Water Politics in Transboundary Water Management; Riparian Partnerships in Developing and Managing shared Water Resources and Governing Laws.

Following the inauguration, the experts and panelist sharpened their focus on a number of important topics on the first day, including: Water Security in The Mediterranean Region: Sustainable Water Reuse Strategies in Agriculture – Case Studies and Regional Perspectives; Climate and Water Security in the Arab Region: From Words to Action; Water Desalination as a Strategic Option for Sustainable Arab Water Security; Investing in Small Scale Irrigation Schemes Versus Large Scale Irrigation Projects: Challenges and Opportunities and Egypt’s Water and Sanitation Sector: Overview and Strategic Future Vision as well as Arab Water Security. The Arab Water Council Board of Governors also meets to push its programme of action.

The 5th Arab Water Forum is a product of more than a year-and-a-half of collaborative effort and preparations with stakeholders from all Arab region including policy-makers, multilateral specialized institutions, academia, civil society and the private sector, among others. Under the overarching theme, “Arab Water Security for Peace and Sustainable Development”, the 5th AWF is intended to address three main priorities: Arab Water Security; Transboundary Water Cooperation and Water for Sustainable Development including about 14 different topics as well as cross cutting Means and Tools.

Each priority and topic have been carefully developed, in collaboration with regional partners, government representatives, NGOs, professional networks and academic groups into a common framework of goals and concrete targets. The Forum is expected to achieve collective action and positive response that will influence the desired change by bridging the science-policy interface. The Forum will also include a parallel track with several Scientific Sessions and Dialogues.

AWF5 is organised and promoted by GM Events, a Dubai-based multi-faceted event management company of international repute, having organized numerous unique forums and exhibitions that highlight the issues faced by various economic sectors across the Arab region.

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