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The Water Crisis - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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As summer temperatures rise, Arab countries are reminded of their annual suffering in the face of water shortage. Scarce water has become fairly common, as has the sight of Arab men with unwashed faces and unshaven beards, their tongues hanging out with evident thirst.

This depiction may seem satirical; however, it presents an image close to the truth. Many Arab countries have been affected by the water crisis and it has become the number one concern for millions of citizens. The long queues of people waiting outside the offices of water authorities for solutions are getting longer crisis worsens and ‘specialized rescue teams’ are enforced. These teams range from opportunistic mafia gangs to companies and organizations that provide water legally.

Arab heritage is full of songs that celebrate water and its abundance. However, the modern water crisis has been transformed into a “psychological crisis,” according to the recent comments of an official. He declared that the issue was “not that major” and had been greatly exaggerated for intimidation purposes.

Although the water crisis in the Arab world is a reflection of a global shortage, it is clear that Arab crisis management is inhibited by whimsical elements and short-term planning. The water crisis is expected to intensify in the near future, as the infrastructure of water facilities deteriorates. The situation is not helped by the staggering increase in population growth, the failure of water rationing policies and the lack of a decisive plan to recycle public water for irrigation and other uses.

There is a pressing need to reconsider agricultural and dairy industry policies, which are responsible for wasting vast amounts of groundwater and strategic water. Furthermore, it is critical to develop understanding of the concept of long-term water storage.

Several affairs have led to the exacerbation of this crisis, including mismanagement and an imbalance in the distribution of resources, in addition to a failing in human resources and the decline of the system of reward and punishment in a manner that is both clearly evident and significant.

Water is no less important than bread, electricity, education or health, and yet it has been neglected for years. Moreover, long-term strategic planning has been ignored in development plans. Today, the price of this negligence is still being paid and the situation will remain as is until further notice.

The water crisis adds to the world’s growing crises and what started out as a ‘psychological’ crisis may soon transform into a desperate struggle for every last drop of water. We will witness the mass migration in search of water resources that we saw in the past; however, modern tracks will be filled with unbearable anxiety and social unrest.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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