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Taqa is off to a great start to 2024, announcing the details of its ambitious water reservoir project in Saudi Arabia. The win adds to the geographical reach of the utility giant. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Abu Dhabi utility company Taqa is part of a consortium that has won a contract to build a high-value water reservoir in the Saudi holy city of Mecca.  

Taqa - one of the largest listed integrated utilities within Europe, the Middle East and Africa - is thus part of 'Juranah Independent Strategic Water Reservoir Project' (ISWR-1), alongside Vision International Investment Company and Gulf Investment Corporation.

The contract was awarded by Saudi Water Partnership Company (SWPC).

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A first of its kind in the Kingdom, the Juranah ISWR-1 Project will have a BOOT (Build, Own, Operate, Transfer) model, reflecting 'active private sector involvement in essential water infrastructure development'.

Taqa will be lead member for the operations and maintenance through a standalone company, which will be co-owned by Vision Invest.

The total project cost is around Dh1.5 billion, with debt funding expected to account for approximately 80 per cent. Taqa is taking a 35 per cent share in the project company and a 50 per cent stake in the specialised O&M company.

“The project is the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia with the participation of the private sector, which comes after the launch of the National Water Strategy," said Khalid Al-Quraishi, CEO of the Saudi Water Partnership Company. 

The commercial operations of the project will start second quarter of 2027.

“The project will contribute to reducing levels of electrical energy consumption," said Al-Quraishi. It will include solar energy units to reduce electricity consumption from the network and achieve the availability of stored water by 100 per cent.  Of course, there will be a decrease in operating costs too.

What will the Mecca project do?

  1. The Taqa consortium will be responsible for building, owning, and operating the water reservoir infrastructure for 30 years.
  2. It will then transfer the ownership to Saudi Water Partnership Co.
  3. The Mecca project's primary objective is to respond to emergency municipal water demand for all the Kingdom's regions - and peak demand in Makkah and Madinah during the Haj season.
  4. The water tanks have a total storage capacity of 2 million cubic meters.
  5. Additionally, operational tanks with a capacity of 500,000 cubic meters will be developed under a DBT (Design, Built, Transfer) model to support the potable water distribution system.

For Taqa, the new Mecca contract is its fourth transmission and distribution project being explored or pursued outside the UAE. "This project aligns with Taqa's commitment to sustainable development and innovation," said Jasim Husain Thabet, Group CEO and Managing Director at the Abu Dhabi company.