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Foreign companies seeking to invest in Saudi water sector—SWCC Governor - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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(Asharq Al-Awsat)

Abdulrahman Al-Ibrahim listens to an explanation of membrane technology in one of SWCC’s plants. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Rabigh, Saudi Arabia, Asharq Al-Awsat—The governor of Saudi Arabia’s Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) has said that foreign companies have shown interest in investing in the water and electricity sectors in the Kingdom.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Abdulrahman Al-Ibrahim estimated investment in the two sectors over the next 10 years would hit more than 213 billion dollars, of which 90 billion dollars would be invested in water desalination.

He said that the recently adopted general strategy of the SWCC “contributes to the attraction of investments” to build desalination plants.

The governor of SWCC told Asharq Al-Awsat that various projects are currently underway to provide the southern areas of the Kindgom with desalinated water, such as the Ashiab project in Taif, which is expected to be completed in mid-August. The project will supply all southern villages with around 40,000 cubic meters of water. Another project in Al-Bahah is expected provide the southwestern city with approximately 40,000 cubic meters of desalinated water per day.

The SWCC’s production jumped from 3 million cubic meters in 2011 to 3.6 million cubic meters this year, according to Ibrahim.

Speaking about the Kingdom’s efforts to utilize membrane technology in water desalination, Ibrahim said that the transfer of this technology into the country came at a time when demand for water was growing.

The Arabian Japanese Membrane Company (AJMC), a joint Saudi–Japanese venture to produce reverse osmosis membrane elements for seawater desalination in the Kingdom, announced on May 29 the completion of the second and third stages of the manufacturing facility in the western town of Rabigh. The facility has been developed in three stages over the last three years, beginning in March 2011.

“It is a step in the right direction which needs support,” Ibrahim told Asharq Al-Awsat, stressing the importance of the cooperation with the Japanese side, thanks to which “we reached this stage of transferring and establishing the technology in the Kingdom.”

Saeed Al-Harithi, the CEO of AJMC, said plants would produce around 1.5 million cubic meters per day, adding that this is vital industry is a source of water security in the Kingdom.

Harithi added that one of the company’s priorities is to have the manufacturing done by Saudis, describing a program where the company employed young Saudi people and sent them abroad for training in Japan before opening the production facility.

“Saudis make up more than 62 percent of the company, and we are trying to get this up to 95 percent,” he said.