As a desert country, Saudi Arabia is fully dependent on its seawater desalination plants, water reservoirs and groundwater reserves for the water supply of its population and economy. The dwindling groundwater resources, which have served about 90% of total water demand over the past 5 years, are predominantly non-regenerative. Daily per capita consumption averages 265 l, making the water-scarce country one of the world's top consumers. Precipitation is very low, averaging 59 mm (cf. Germany: 700 mm) per year, and is both regionally and seasonally varying, with evaporation rates of 3000 mm per year and more, depending on the region. The problem of dwindling groundwater resources is further aggravated by uneconomical use, as, for instance, little expertise exists in well rehabilitation. Costly new wells have to be drilled on a regular basis. The remaining 10% of water demand is met by a large and growing desalination industry. Already, 20% of the total energy consumption, or 1.5 million barrels of oil daily, is accounted for by seawater desalination plants alone.
Saudi Arabia's "Vision 2030" reform program explicitly lists the optimal use of water resources as one of its goals. Optimal use is to be achieved by reducing consumption and by using treated water.
It is assumed that annual investment in Saudi water infrastructure will amount to USD 5 billion over the next 20 years. The state-owned (NWC) stated in mid-2015 that it was involved in 301 water projects with a total volume of USD 6.7 billion.
Like Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain, as an arid island nation, faces challenges such as declining water tables, saline irrigation water, and proper disposal of industrial wastewater.
With its Vision 2030, The Kingdom of Bahrain has embarked on an economic transformation and diversification process. The Kingdom, alike its neighbouring country, is aiming to set up a circular carbon economy. The water sector remains vital for the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. By 2030 the Kingdom of Bahrain plans to have an efficient, equitable and secured water management system effectively serving its Economic Development Vision.
Some German technology providers are already present and well-positioned in the market.
Business opportunities for German companies
There is great need to build sustainable, environmentally friendly water infrastructure with foreign expertise. With up to half of the country's land not yet connected to formal wastewater structures, extensive infrastructure upgrades are expected in the coming years.
The lack of analytical capacity in Saudi Arabia also needs to be addressed. To ensure the efficient long-term use of water, hydro labs need to be established so that resource can be analyzed locally.
By the end of 2022, tenders worth $21.4 billion are expected in the water and wastewater sector. Of this, a total of USD 11.3 billion is earmarked for seawater desalination, USD 7.9 billion for the water network and infrastructure, and USD 2.3 billion for wastewater treatment plants.
German companies and their innovative cutting-edge technologies and services in the field of water and environmental services are also in demand in Bahrain. Various market opportunities are expected in the future.
Are you interested in the market?
The German-Saudi Arabian Liaison Office for Economic Affairs organizes B2B meetings with interested Saudi Arabian companies from the water and wastewater sector for you. If you are looking for business partners, project partners or potential end customers, we are the right contact as competent experts in the Saudi market.
An overview of workshops already held can be found here.