World Water Day 2024: Innovation and sustainability drive UAE’s journey to water security – Gulf News

A combination of tech, eco-friendly practices and consumer awareness transforms the sector
Amid the ever-expanding water demand and escalating threats of climate change, the necessity for efficient water generation and management has never been more critical. As a fundamental resource for survival of life, water demands immediate attention, with every drop becoming increasingly invaluable in our efforts to safeguard the planet.
In response to the growing concerns of the global water crisis, the UAE, under the directives of President His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, launched the Mohamed Bin Zayed Water Initiative last month. This initiative aims to confront the urgent challenge of water scarcity by enhancing awareness and accelerating technological innovation.
Innovation has always been integral to the UAE’s water sector, driven by the scarcity of freshwater resources. Whether it’s advancements in desalination, water treatment, bottling drinking water or water filtration, the UAE has continuously leveraged advanced technology to meet the demands of its water needs. In line with its water security objectives, the UAE has recently opened the NAQA’A Seawater Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) desalination plant in Umm Al Quwain. With a capacity to produce 150 million gallons of desalinated water daily, this plant ranks among the largest seawater desalination projects globally using SWRO technology.
Initiatives are being pursued not only at the government level but also within the private sector, where companies are actively striving to build a resilient and environmentally responsible water sector.
By providing clean and safe drinking water, these companies not only address the hydration needs of the community but also align with the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036, which aims to ensure continuous access to water during normal and emergency conditions, as well as meet the national sustainability objectives.
The homegrown bottled drinking water brand Al Shalal Water has been actively contributing to the UAE’s water security goals since 1998. Abdulla Falaknaz, Managing Director of Al Shalal, highlights the company’s commitment as a small and medium enterprise (SME) and member of the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.

“We work with NGOs and charitable organisations to provide necessary support to meet the hydration requirements of the nation,” he says. “We are also continuously investing in state-of-the-art technologies to optimise the quality of our products and delivery service. This includes digital transformation that enhances convenience and experience of the customers. Furthermore, we are evaluating the launch of value-added products and services in the near future.”
While the UAE has long been known as a bottled water market, there’s a noticeable shift under way as demand for water purification and filtration continues to rise. This growing trend is providing families with an alternative to traditional bottled drinking water, encouraging them to explore more sustainable and affordable options.
“One significant driver for growth in the water filter segment is the increasing awareness among consumers about the importance of water quality,” says Stefan Schmied, Leader, IMEA, Lixil. “This awareness is further fuelled by concerns about the environmental impact of bottled water, prompting people to seek alternative, more sustainable solutions.”

Lixil’s array of brands includes Grohe, which has experienced notable demand for its water filtration product, Grohe Blue Home, in the UAE. “This innovative water filter system allows users to enjoy great-tasting water right from their tap, eliminating the need for single-use plastic bottles,” says Schmied.
Similarly, Waterclub is also witnessing a rise in demand for its water purification range, reflecting the evolving preferences of UAE residents towards eco-friendly solutions.

“It’s no secret that single-use plastic has become a thing of the past, and studies have shown that 77 per cent of UAE residents are against it,” says Liliana Donado Martinez, Owner of Waterclub, which boasts a range of water filters that are affordable and eco-friendly. “Correct information and reasonable, transparent pricing are essential to change the way people consume water.”
Anis Sajan, Vice Chairman of Danube Group, notes that initiatives like Dubai Can, launched in 2022 to minimise single-use plastic water bottle waste by promoting the use of refillable water bottles, have contributed to the increasing demand for water purifiers.

“The undeniable health benefits of purified water are influencing consumer choices, while the cost efficiencies offered by water purifiers resonate with budget-conscious consumers,” Sajan explains.
Danube offers a range of Milano RO+UV and UV+UF water purifiers, meeting the evolving needs of UAE residents for clean, safe, and sustainable drinking water solutions.
“It’s a collaborative journey towards sustainability, and Milano is proud to contribute to this positive transformation in the UAE,” he says.
To address the challenges associated with high installation and maintenance costs, as well as common entry barriers, the water filtration and purification segment is implementing an array of strategic initiatives.
Grohe, for example, offers competitive pricing for its products, making them more accessible to consumers. “Additionally, the Grohe brand provides excellent customer support and training in mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) ensuring that installation and maintenance are hassle-free,” says Schmied.
Similarly, service and affordability are critical for Waterclub. “We offer a range of water filters that are affordable, eco-friendly, and built to last,” adds Martinez. “Our pricing includes installation and maintenance for the first year. From the second year, the maintenance cost is only Dh1.6 per day making it an affordable choice for everyone.”
In addition to focusing on technology and affordable solutions, companies prioritise meeting environmental standards to address the water challenge effectively. Whether in bottled water production or filtration systems, most water companies in the UAE are making significant strides towards net zero while delivering more efficiently for their customers.
“We have made concentrated efforts to reduce our carbon footprint,” says Falaknaz from Al Shalal. “We have implemented solar and sensor lights to reduce power consumption in our premises and are evaluating a project to instal solar panels on our entire facility.”
Moreover, Al Shalal’s five-gallon bottles are reusable and 100 per cent recyclable. “Scrap bottles are collected and sent to third-party recycling plants. Any sort of waste doesn’t end up in the marine environments or landfill,” he adds.
Innovation and sustainability are fundamental to Milano’s ethos, says Sajan. “We’ve embraced technology to tackle water wastage, a pressing concern with traditional purifiers. Our latest models feature advanced RO systems, substantially reducing wastewater. Additionally, we leverage UV and UF technologies for efficient and thorough purification processes.”
Grohe has incorporated several new technologies into its water filters/purifiers to prevent water wastage and enhance sustainability. “One such technology is Grohe EcoJoy, which is used in faucets and showers to decrease water consumption,” explains Schmied. “Another example is Grohe EcoButton, which allows users to save up to 50 per cent of water without conscious effort. Additionally, the Grohe Blue water system transforms the kitchen faucet into a source of fresh drinking water, eliminating the need for single-use plastic bottles,”
By leveraging innovation, technology and environmental consciousness, government and private enterprises in the UAE are not only addressing the immediate water challenge but also laying the foundation for a sustainable future. ■
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