Kingdom seen as regional water management hub

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Updated 31 December 2012
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Kingdom seen as regional water management hub

Saudi Arabia has the opportunity to become one of the centers of water management in the region and perhaps in the world, according to Olivier Brousse, CEO of SAUR, one of the three leading providers of outsourced services for water authorities in the water and waste management industries in France.
“Expansion through strategic joint venture partnerships in the Kingdom is a clear example of SAUR’s commitment to this region,” he said.
Brousse was in Jeddah to attend the recently concluded Saudi Water & Power Forum & Exhibition (SWPF) 2012.
He also said SAUR began its international development in the 1960s, first in Africa, and then in Europe, Asia and South America. Since 2008, the group’s focus has shifted to consolidating its existing positions in Europe (Poland, Spain, Scotland and Armenia) and boosting its growth in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region, with primary focus on Saudi Arabia.
SAUR, which has various projects in the Kingdom, wants to make Saudi Arabia one of the key strategic countries for the future, said Brousse.
In 2005, he said SAUR was commissioned by the Ministry of Water and Electricity of Saudi Arabia, as part of a group tender, to conduct an audit of the water and sanitation services in parts of the Eastern Province.
Brousse said SAUR carried out a complete technical and financial audit of the water and sanitation services in Dammam (750,000 inhabitants) and in Alkhobar (360,000 inhabitants) in partnership with the Zamil Group.
He said the SAUR-Zamil joint venture won the 5.4 million-euro Quick Wins contract for technical assistance and customer relationship management over a 16-month period.
In August 2009, the SAUR-Zamil joint venture signed a 2.3 million euro Quick Wins contract for technical assistance in Makkah, over a period of one year.
The National Water Company (NWC) awarded the contract for water distribution and network management in the Makkah and Taif to the Franco-Saudi O & M consortium SAUR-Zamil (equity is split 70 percent for SAUR and 30 percent for Zamil) in August 2010.
The five-year management contract covers all services related to water supply and sanitation and customers management.
It includes the management and operation of 4,200 km of drinking water systems and 2,500 km of sewerage networks. The volume distributed is in order of 555,000 m3 per day.
In April 2011, Brousse said SAUR formed a joint venture with Marafiq, the first private water and electricity utility company in Saudi Arabia, to operate and maintain water and wastewater assets in the industrial city of Jubail.
The joint venture operates installations of significant size. For potable water, three desalination units of 37,800 m3/d, two water tanks, two major pumping stations and 29 secondary stations and 885 km network.
SanitationOne wastewater treatment plant of 140,000 m3/day for domestic wastewater, 586 km of network, 58 pumping stations and 222 lift stations, one wastewater treatment plants for industrial water of 120,000 m3/d, 35 km of network and 35 pumping stations. Seawater cooling is used for the cooling of industrial installations.
Marafiq pumps annually around 9 billion m3 of seawater to provide the industrial areas.
“This new strategic partnership is a strong reflection of SAUR’s commitment and focus on long-term investment in Saudi Arabia as well as recognition of its expertise and sustainable implementation in the Kingdom,” Brousse said.
“The annual turnover of this joint venture for 2012 is estimated around $ 80 million,” he added.
Brousse, however, said water resources management during peak events like the Haj season, when the level of inhabitants is dramatically increases, could be considered as one of the main challenges for SAUR.
He said one of the achievements of SAUR is in contributing to the successful implementation of the integrated operational plan to mobilize quantity of water in all water reservoirs, estimated to be about two million and half cubic meters spread across Makkah among which one reservoir — the “million” reservoir — was filled well in time before Haj.


Davos organizer WEF warns of growing risk of cyberattacks in Gulf

Updated 46 min 35 sec ago
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Davos organizer WEF warns of growing risk of cyberattacks in Gulf

  • Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar particularly vulnerable
  • John Drzik spoke to Arab News about the state of cybersecurity in the Gulf

LONDON: The World Economic Forum (WEF) has warned of the growing possibility of cyberattacks in the Gulf — with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar particularly vulnerable.

Cyberattacks were ranked as the second most important risk — after an “energy shock” — in the three Gulf states, according to the WEF’s flagship Global Risks Report 2019.

The report was released ahead of the WEF’s annual forum in Davos, Switzerland, which starts on Tuesday.

In an interview with Arab News, John Drzik, president of global risk and digital at professional services firm Marsh & McLennan said: “The risk of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure such as power centers and water plants is moving up the agenda in the Middle East, and in the Gulf in particular.”

Drzik was speaking on the sidelines of a London summit where WEF unveiled the report, which was compiled in partnership with Marsh and Zurich Insurance.

“Cyberattacks are a growing concern as the regional economy becomes more sophisticated,” he said.

“Critical infrastructure means centers where disablement could affect an entire society — for instance an attack on an electric grid.”

Countries needed to “upgrade to reflect the change in the cyber risk environment,” he added.

The WEF report incorporated the results of a survey taken from about 1,000 experts and decision makers.

The top three risks for the Middle East and Africa as a whole were found to be an energy price shock, unemployment or underemployment, and terrorist attacks.

Worries about an oil price shock were said to be particularly pronounced in countries where government spending was rising, said WEF. This group includes Saudi Arabia, which the IMF estimated in May 2018 had seen its fiscal breakeven price for oil — that is, the price required to balance the national budget — rise to $88 a barrel, 26 percent above the IMF’s October 2017 estimate, and also higher than the country’s medium-term oil-price target of $70–$80.

But that disclosure needed to be balanced with the fact that risk of “fiscal crises” dropped sharply in the WEF survey rankings, from first position last year to fifth in 2018.

The report said: “Oil prices increased substantially between our 2017 and 2018 surveys, from around $50 to $75. This represents a significant fillip for the fiscal position of the region’s oil producers, with the IMF estimating that each $10 increase in oil prices should feed through to an improvement on the fiscal balance of 3 percentage points of GDP.”

At national level, this risk of “unemployment and underemployment” ranked highly in Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Oman and Tunisia.
“Unemployment is a pressing issue in the region, particularly for the rapidly expanding young population: Youth unemployment averages around 25 percent and is close to 50 percent in Oman,” said the report.

Other countries attaching high prominence to domestic and regional fractures in the survey were Tunisia, with “profound
social instability” ranked first, and Algeria, where respondents ranked “failure of regional and global governance” first.

Looking at the global picture, WEF warned that weakened international co-operation was damaging the collective will to confront key issues such as climate change and environmental degradation.