The availability of water in Arab countries is steadily dwindling due to the rapid increase in population. There is a real need to sign new international agreements on the conservation of our water supply, conduct research, and find viable solutions to this issue. The UAE has paid close attention to this growing concern, and has worked diligently to take all the necessary steps to rationalise our water usage for both irrigation and drinking purposes. We have taken critical steps towards finding alternative ways of compensating for our growing lack of water in the country, specifically through means of desalination and sewage treatment for the purpose of irrigation. The UAE’s ongoing efforts to provide millions around the world with clean water falls in line with the wise words of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who said, “Water in our land is a great blessing, and our ancestors knew its precious value because they were deprived of it. We are also well aware of its value because a considerable portion of our financial resources are allocated to provide water. We have to thank God for this blessing by preserving it and helping those who are in need around the world.”
In June 2014, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the UAE Water Aid initiative to provide clean water to approximately five million people worldwide. Suqia, the UAE Water Aid campaign, was launched in cooperation with the Emirates Red Crescent Authority and has raised AED 180 million in 18 days to provide clean drinking water to seven million people across the world. On 3 February 2015, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum issued Law Number 3 of 2015, establishing the UAE Water Aid Foundation as a non-profit organisation. The foundation is part of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA).
The foundation aims to promote the UAE's position globally and participate in initiatives and humanitarian aid to improve the living conditions of the poor and affected communities in various countries, as well as help achieve sustainable development for all mankind by supporting international communities and providing clean water solutions, conducting research and studies to support the production of clean water using solar energy, forging international partnerships, and achieving the major goal of providing clean drinking water. The Suqia initiative is unique because it focuses on research and development, and makes use of solar energy to desalinate sea water in cooperation with universities and other research and development centres. The initiative has been allocated USD 1 million towards the success of the project.
Based on the decree by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the board of trustees of the UAE Water Aid Foundation was formed. The board is chaired by HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, and includes a representative from each of the Ministry of International Cooperation and Development, Emirates Red Crescent, UAE University, Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research, and two representatives from DEWA as members. The tenure of the trustees is for three years with the possibility of extension. Mohammed Abdulkareem Al Shamsi was assigned as Acting Executive Director of the UAE Water Aid Foundation. Since its establishment, the Foundation has become a distinguished organisation that provides humanitarian aid to the needy and distressed around the world.
HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer has noted that the UAE Water Aid Foundation provides clean water to the needy, conducts studies and research to support the treatment of water using solar power, contributes to financing and supporting water-technology projects to combat drought, and supervises a million-dollar annual award for research on the development of new technologies and mechanisms for treating water using solar power.
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives
In October 2015, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched one of the largest development and community foundations in the Middle East region – the “Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives.” The new foundation consolidates the work of 28 organisations focusing on fighting poverty and illness; spreading knowledge and culture; empowering the community; and driving innovation. All combined, the foundation’s initiatives will implement 1,400 human development programs in 116 countries around the world.
The Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives will target 130 million people over the coming years, focusing its programmes on the Arab world. It will also launch the largest and most comprehensive development programme in region, focusing on human development in an integrated manner starting with providing basic human needs from health, fighting illiteracy and poverty through to providing knowledge, the dissemination of culture and the development of education. It will work in parallel on developing a new generation of young Arab leaders, supporting governance in the region, and providing the largest incubator for Arab innovators, scientists and researchers.
The primary goals of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives focus on four main sectors: Fighting Poverty; Dissemination of Knowledge; Community Empowerment; and Innovation for the Future.
The Suqia Initiative, will conduct research on the UAE’s water supply until 2025, in line with HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s vision of addressing all water challenges in the region as one of the country’s top priorities within the next few years.
Suqia Research & Development
In cooperation with DEWA, the Suqia Initiative’s research & development projects include reverse osmosis of sea water and a photovoltaic desalination plant, in addition to water purification via solar technology with the capacity of storing 7 hours of electricity at 50 cubic meters per day, located at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.
The Suqia Initiative’s humanitarian projects
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Charity and Humanitarian Establishment and the UAE Water Aid Foundation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to effectively enhance their strategic partnership. The MoU enhances cooperation between the two sides in helping developing and needy countries, and facilitating collaboration to implement joint humanitarian initiatives and projects that serve the strategies and objectives of both organisations. This enhances their social roles within an established framework and set methodologies. The MoU also helps both organisations effectively utilise their potential and existing resources to address water scarcity and pollution issues.
After the MoU was signed, the sides worked together to provide drinking water to people in Somalia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Ghana, Yemen, and Benin for the benefit 60,000 persons, through 10 different projects.
The UAE Water Aid Foundation recently launched a number of campaigns to distribute water to Ramadan tents and mosques in collaboration with associations and charities in the UAE, in addition to providing relief assistance to Yemen in cooperation with the Ministry of Development and International Cooperation. The number of beneficiaries was 1,087,500 (according to the Ministry). In the UAE, a number of campaigns were launched to distribute water to Ramadan tents and mosques in collaboration with nine local associations and charities in the UAE. 100,000 people benefited from this distribution campaign during the holy month of Ramadan.
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Water Award
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Water Award. The initiative has allocated USD1 million to finding sustainable solutions to help address water shortages internationally, particularly through the use of solar energy for desalination and purification process. The prize consists of three categories, which includes Innovative Projects for Companies, Innovative Studies and Research and Young Innovators. The Innovative Projects for Companies prize is awarded to companies that rationalise water use with solar energy. Applicants of the award must be able to show clear evidence of measurable results pertaining to the desalination and purification of seawater and a decrease in wastage. The Innovative Studies & Research prize, is awarded to applicants who contributed to address water shortages through either a new innovative technology or through a process that makes use of solar technology in the desalination and purification of water.
Projects submitted for the award should already have been in execution for a period of no less than 1 year, prior to submission. For national institutions, applications must be submitted by either a UAE national or on behalf of a UAE national educational or non-profit institution within the UAE. For non-national institutions, applications must be submitted on behalf of an international educational or non-profit institution. For the Young Innovators prize, applicants must present an innovative technological solution to address the issue of water scarcity using solar energy.
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Water Award awareness campaign
The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Water Award was promoted at international events such as COP21 in Paris, the Solar Decathlon in California, the USA, and at the Carbon Ambassador Programme, in Dubai. Suqia UAE also organised a host of activities and meetings, to coincide with the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in the USA.
Suqia at COP21 in Paris
Dubai’s latest projects gained international attention during its recent participation in COP21, which ran from the 30 November to 11 December 2015. More than 190 countries worked cohesively to come to an agreement, and to discuss what was needed to be done until 2020, to successfully limit climate change.
Mohammed Abdulkareem Al Shamsi took part in the delegation, which was headed by HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy & MD & CEO of DEWA.
DEWA’s stand, along with the Suqia initiative, received a high level of interest from crowds, and visitors at the conference’s exhibition, information regarding DEWA’s recent achievements, was presented on smart technology. The last day of the exhibition saw the attendance of HE Ahmed bin Amir Humaidi, Qatar’s Minister of the Environment, as well as a delegation from The French Ministry of Foreign affairs; a delegation from Energy and Climate Change department of the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs including HE Dr. Matar Hamed Al Neyadi, Undersecretary for The Ministry of Energy, HE Abbas Ali Al-Naqi, Secretary General. The Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), a regional Arab organization of an international character that specializes in the affairs of oil, also attended, along with a delegation from Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation (KAHRAMAA), a delegation from the Energy, Mineral Resources, Water and Environment Ministry of Estonia, a delegation from the Moroccan National Office for Electricity and Water, and a delegation from the African Climate Resilient Infrastructure Summit (ACRIS), organised by The African Union. DEWA was invited to join the summit by the ACRIS delegation and also received invitations from other German, Swiss, and Dutch companies.
Mohammed Abdulkareem Al Shamsi, Acting Executive Director of the UAE Water Aid Foundation, participated in an official delegation headed by HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and MD and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) that visited the United States after receiving an official invitation from the US Department of Energy to participate in the Solar Decathlon organised by the Department in Irvine, California, from 14-18 October, 2015. DEWA conducted its Dubai-USA Briefing in California in collaboration with the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC), the organisation that promotes and supports US-Arab business and economic cooperation. The US Department of Energy (DoE), the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, US Commercial Services, and the US—UAE Business Council also supported the event. Mohammed Abdulkarim Al Shamsi gave a presentation about UAE Water Aid. He urged US companies to participate in the international USD 1 million prize launched by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to find permanent solutions to the problem of water scarcity around the world.