The United Arab Emirates' (UAE's) rapid economic and population growth over the last couple of decades has put immense pressure on its water resources. Currently, the country has a population of 5.1 million, and continues to grow at a rate of 3.28 per cent. To meet the water demands of this escalating population and improve water connectivity, the government is looking at viable options such as desalination and infrastructure development.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (environmental.frost.com), Assessment of the Water and Wastewater Sector in the United Arab Emirates, finds that the market earned revenues of USD 2.75 billion in 2011 and estimates this to reach USD 5.61 billion in 2015.
The infrastructure industry in the UAE grew by over 3.3 per cent in 2010 and is attracting huge investments. While the Northern Emirates are witnessing significant growth in the real estate sector, cities like Dubai and Sharjah are upgrading to smart cities and planning mega projects.
Further, to establish itself as a tourist destination, the UAE is upgrading its infrastructure with world-class facilities, comprising efficient road networks, superlative telecommunications facilities and affordable electricity and water. These developmental activities translate to greater demand for water, even as the reserves of fresh water are running low.
The total desalination installed capacity in the UAE is 8.9 million litres per day (MLD), and is expected to expand at a higher rate with many of the emirates turning towards privatisation. The government is looking for 100-per cent water connectivity to all the UAE residents by 2012; hence, investments in water distribution are anticipated to increase.
"The rise in oil prices facilitates investments in the infrastructure of water and wastewater projects," said Frost & Sullivan Environment and Building Technologies Analyst. "If oil prices remain firm, the UAE is likely to record surplus revenue, which can be utilised for economic diversification."
Recently, the UAE economy took a turn for the worse due to the collapsing real estate prices in Dubai and the global economic downturn. This caused the deferment of many of the planned water projects and advanced wastewater treatment projects such as membrane bioreactor (MBR). However, the economic diversification has helped spread out investments to services, manufacturing and downstream metal industries, leading to higher demand for water.
Large industries and municipalities mostly outsource the water and wastewater treatment plant services as they can afford the high capital and operational costs. Due to low product differentiation, market participants tend to resort to competitive pricing to standout in the market.
Customers in the UAE are highly price sensitive but expect treatment systems to be fully compliant to their needs. They also look for prompt after-sales service and technical support.
"Reliability and efficiency are the other key factors considered by end users while choosing water and wastewater equipment suppliers," noted Frost & Sullivan Analyst. "Further, a company that provides complete solution and lowers the operational cost to the end user will occupy the central position in the market."
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Assessment of the Water and Wastewater Sector in the United Arab Emirates is part of the Environmental Growth Partnership Services program, which also includes research in the following markets: Water and Wastewater Treatment Equipment Market and Water and Wastewater Distribution Network Market. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
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