Water bottles at a supermarket. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Not all bottled water is created equal. Some are rare finds because of their exotic source and some are just regular, treated water. So which is it for you?

Bottled water sourced from untouched glaciers far away can come with a heftier price tag compared to the regular ones we source locally. The impression is these bottles of water are more superior and are therefore more preferable.

In today’s water story, Gulf News will look at all elements of price, place of origin, production quality, and perception attached to designer bottled water in comparison to just plain locally sourced water.

Beyond the reach of everyone is the Acqua di Cristallo Tributo a Modigliani, a typical 750ml bottle of which would cost $60,000 (Dh220,200). Three glasses in all, this most expensive bottled water is sourced from either France or Fiji. But what made it so expensive is its designer bottle made of 24-carat gold.

Coming far second in the list is the Kona Nigari Water sold at $402 per 750ml. Touted as a weight-loss water that promotes better skin tone and quality and can reduce stress, this water is actually desalinated deep sea water collected from 2,000 feet below sea level somewhere off the island of Hawaii.

But do they really make a big difference in the human body? Are the people who can’t afford such water brands missing out on anything compared to those who can?

Not conclusively, said Juliot Vinolia, clinical dietitian and head of Dietary Services at Medeor 24x7 Hospital. An unhealthy diet and lifestyle will negate the effects of drinking an elixir like this however potent it may claim to be.

“We need to understand that health is highly more influenced by a nutrient-rich, balanced diet and adequate water intake. Relying only on superior brand water with claims for detox or other properties will not be a wise choice without a healthy diet and lifestyle,” Vinolia told Gulf News.

“From the health perspective, it does not matter which source — so long as the water is safe to consume with safe mineral composition.”

In fact, Vinolia said there have been several consumer studies where people — while being blindfolded — could not differentiate between tap water and exotic water.

“It is only by difference in choice of taste and knowledge of the source that adds product value to these brands. As consumers, we can occasionally enjoy the easy access to these exotic waters and quench our thirst without crossing miles away to the alps or rainforests. Water plays a very important role in preventing disease and longevity. Be it bottled, branded or tap water, it is more important we meet our daily water requirements.

“And with the privilege of an efficient water distribution system and laws in the UAE, we don’t have to worry much on microbial and metallic contamination.”

For adult men, you will need around 3.7 litres of fluids, including what you get from fruits, drinks and food, while women need 2.7 litres of fluids daily, according to the US-based National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Apart from perception, this basic, life-giving commodity when turned into a designer water brand also comes with it a certain “status symbolism” for some people. Some residents say they see people carrying around pricey water bottles and some deem this as a trend lately.

“The reason why people would think that it is a status symbol is as simple as it would show that ‘I have so much of money that I don’t actually care; I will go for the more expensive product’. So this reflects more on how they value money in some ways,” said Lavina Ahuja, a psychologist and a personal development consultant at LifeWorks Foundation.

“It could also be that the person is at a stage where he doesn’t have to count every single dirham he spends and that it really is the water he drinks. But judging someone just by what you see he or she carries is one dimensional.”

No matter the differences in types and prices, at the end of the day, water is water, Ahuja said.

What to look for in water? Vinolia recommends:

The quality of water from anywhere in the world depends on three basic elements:

1. Uncontaminated with disease-causing microbes

2. Not polluted by industrial waste and sewage waste

3. Has the minerals and trace elements in proportions with safe limits for human health

Bottled water should just simply be safe for human consumption, meeting the above criteria. Bottled water containing safe limits of calcium, magnesium and less sodium may benefit health for UAE population based on climatic zone.

In bottled water, we need to check for expiry, the presence of minerals like calcium, magnesium and low sodium. Low sodium if one is consuming packed and processed foods on a frequent basis.


World’s most expensive water

1) Brand: Acqua di Cristallo Tributo a Modigliani

Price: $60,000 per 750ml

Source: Either France or Fiji

Bottle: Made of solid 24-carat gold and designed by Fernando Altamirano of Tequila Ley fame

2) Brand: Kona Nigari Water

Price: $402 per 750ml

Source: Deep sea water off the island of Hawaii, claims to help you lose weight, reduce stress and improve skin tone and quality. 3) Brand: Fillico

Price: $219 per 750ml

Bottle: Built like a chess piece, specifically that of a king or a queen topped with gold crowns; produced in Japan

4) Brand: Bling H2O

Price: $40 per 750ml

Bottle: Bottle has Swarovski crystals; water is bottled at the source which is an English Mountain Spring located at the base of the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee

5) Brand: Veen

Price: $23 per 750ml

Source: Comes from Finland and is “rated as one of the purest water in the world”

Other international bottled water available here

1) VOSS — Bottled at an artesian source in the pollution-free wilderness of Southern Norway.

2) Evian — Comes from rain and melting snow on the peaks of the Northern Alps that are filtered through layers of glacial sand on a 15+ year journey deep in the heart of the mountains.

3) San Pellegrino — Natural mineral water that flows from natural springs in Val Brembana in the San Pellegrino Terme area, at the foothills of the Italian Alps near Bergamo (Lombardy).

Source: therichest.com, the brands’ websites