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UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure hosts the 5th Arab Water Forum
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 14 - 04 - 2021

The 5th Arab Water Forum (AWF5) will be held at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi from Sept. 21 to 23, 2021, it was announced.
More than 800 high-level participants including government ministers and undersecretaries representing 22 participant governments, high government officials, public and private sector organization will attend the triennial conference that will see more than 50 experts discussing water scarcity and sustainable development across the region.
To be held under the patronage of the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, the three-day Forum will focus on an important theme — "Arab Water Security for Peace and Sustainable Development" and will be attended by government delegations and the private sector of the 22 Arab countries.
The high-profile conference will be supported by the Arab League and the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation of Egypt (MWRI), in collaboration with national, regional and international partners.
AWF5 will host more than 50 exhibitors displaying the latest technology and innovation in water, desalination as well as production of pure drinking water, utility companies, municipalities and suppliers at the three-day conference that will spread awareness on the key messages through a massive global media campaign.
The Arab Forum takes place at a time as water scarcity is reaching 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.
In fact, 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, water availability is only 1,200 cubic meters, 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," said a World Bank report.
A World Bank study showed that the rate of freshwater reserve losses in the Middle East was almost equal to the volume of the entire Dead Sea, making it the largest rate of loss of liquid freshwater on the planet during that time.
"Over the past 30 years, the water table in the UAE has dropped about one meter per year. At the current rate, the UAE is projected to deplete its natural freshwater resources in about 50 years," the report says.
"To meet water demand, many countries in the Middle East rely on desalination plants. Over 75 percent of worldwide desalinated water is in the Middle East and North Africa, 70 percent of which is in the GCC countries — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE — and 6 percent in Libya and Algeria.
In many MENA countries, 85 percent of water is consumed by the agriculture sector. More water-efficient agricultural practices will save water so it could be used to meet other demands. Good water-resource management depends on good agricultural irrigation policies.
Prof. Mahmoud Abu-Zeid, president of the Arab Water Council, said, "The Arab region today is facing unprecedented multi-dimensional water challenges that are affecting its stability and threatening its sustainability.
"Despite decades of regulation and large investments in water-related sectors, evidence still shows that the growing climate variability with its impacts on water availability, combined with the existing water scarcity in the region, has translated into poor livelihoods and food insecurity and has heavily impacted water-dependent jobs leading to substantial employment cuts across the regional economy."
"Moreover, the continuous rise in water use due to socio-economic development, combined with population growth and changes in consumption patterns, continue to increase the stress level on the limited water resources especially in conflict settings where water infrastructure is limited, damaged and targeted for destruction.
"On the other hand, upstream pressures on transboundary waters continue to jeopardize peaceful sustainability of livelihoods in the region, where almost 65 percent of its renewable surface water resources is originating from outside the region.
"Within this context, the Arab Water Council will be organizing its AWF5 in Abu Dhabi, UAE, in September 2021. We look forward to your participation in this vital event to share knowledge and experience towards achieving "Arab Water Security for Peace and Sustainable Development", which will also be an important milestone for reflecting on the Arab Region's views in preparation for the 9th World Water Forum in March 2022."
The 2021 edition of the Arab Water Forum will feature three days of keynote speeches, panel sessions, scientific sessions, and an Arab Water Expo, along with plenty of opportunities for networking.
Some of the key topics that will come under radar 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.
Noel Greenway, managing partner of GM Events, says, "Today's announcement confirms the date of the event and the venue for the 5th Arab Water Forum. All stakeholders are now preparing for making the event a success as we are getting confirmation from governments on their active participation.
"The 5th Arab Water Forum will showcase some of the world's most innovative technologies, along with 40+ international speakers and 800+ senior delegates who will all gather together in Abu Dhabi this September with all safety measures in place.
"The three-day conference and exhibition will bring back key stakeholders working on water usage, supply and issues related to the environment and reinforce the UAE's position as a key regional hub. We look forward to a large congregation of experts who will discuss this crucial issue."
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 Slogan "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 has 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. — SG


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