Water scarcity is reaching a critical level in the Middle East, presenting significant barriers to development. Dow Water & Process Solutions, Middle East, Africa & Turkey has been dedicated to address the unique needs of its customers in the Middle East & Africa. On this topic and more, waterHQ has conducted an interview with Zakia Bahjou, Regional Commercial Manager at Dow Water & Process Solutions, Middle East, Africa & Turkey.
waterHQ: What are the key challenges facing the water industry in the MENA region?
Zakia Bahjou: Data from the World Resources Institute actually places 14 of the world’s 33 most water-stressed countries in the Middle East and North Africa, including countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, making discussions about solutions to water scarcity crucial in this region. In order to address water scarcity, the first step is to reduce consumption and be more efficient, and to recycle water where possible. Treating municipal wastewater for reuse presents a reliable and safe option to help mitigate water scarcity in the region. And when reducing water use and recycling is not enough, desalination is a viable, proven, economically feasible option, thanks to advances in water treatment technologies. Dow carries the industry’s broadest and deepest range of proprietary technology that reduce chemical use, cost and energy requirements of treating and producing water – translating into less strain on the planet while improving both municipal and industrial customers’ bottom lines. Products available in the GCC include reverse osmosis technology such as DOW FILMTEC™ SEAMAXX™, which is used in the desalination of seawater, and DOW FILMTEC™ ECO, which removes minerals from brackish water while reducing energy consumption by up to 30 percent. We also have ultrafiltration technology, like DOW INTEGRAFLUX XP FIBER, for pre-treatment in processes in applications where the water source may require additional attention.
waterHQ: How can water and energy be used more efficiently?
Bahjou: Energy and water are inextricably linked. Water is required to make use of energy. Energy is required to make use of water. Unfortunately, lack of technology, poor management or inefficiencies in one area can affect the sustainability of the other. Projected long term demographic shifts and economic growth in the Middle East will demand additional power generation capacity to meet the region’s growing needs for clear water. Therefore, it is crucial to minimize the amount of energy needed to provide water for various uses and, conversely, the amount of water needed to produce different kinds of energy. Energy recovery, reuse and minimizing the amount of mechanical energy are crucial to reduce our environmental impact and improve cost efficiency. That requires us to look at creating energy efficient technology since desalination is quite energy intensive. As mentioned above, we are proud to offer DOW FILMTEC™ SEAMAXX™ and DOW FILMTEC™ ECO, which aid in desalination in a sustainable way.
waterHQ: Are there any recent policies and programs to promote energy efficiency in water production?
Bahjou: Sustainability in general has become a top priority for the UAE, with the government highlighting the creation of sustainable environment and infrastructure programs as part of the UAE Vision 2021. This pillar of development includes improving air quality, developing clean energy sources and preserving water resources. As economies and communities in the region grow in population and reach higher levels of affluence, the demand for water has increased. As a result, the UAE is focusing more on ensuring increased adoption of sustainable water technologies, and companies in the region are installing water treatment technologies to make their processes much more efficient. The Park Hyatt Dubai, for example, implemented a new water recycling project to reuse onsite wastewater, and supply its cooling towers with treated water to cool 225 rooms and suites. The hotel uses Dow Water & Process Solutions’ reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration technologies to treat the hotel’s wastewater for reuse to help operate the HVAC system. Since 2010, this system has helped the hotel save 154,880 meters3 of potable water. Due to the technologies used, the Park Hyatt now saves about 37 million gallons of water per year, or enough water to fill 62 Olympic-sized pools. Another promising initiative is the recent launch of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Water Award, which was launched through the UAE Water Aid Foundation by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai in February of 2016. The awards will be given across three categories: Innovative projects, Innovative Research & Development and the Innovative Youth Award. The development of these awards showcases just how important water is to this region and by recognizing organizations or individuals who are developing innovative solutions to address water scarcity and effective water management it will push the future of our industry forward.