Image Credit: Megan Hirons/Gulf News

The UAE needs to take action now in its agricultural sector to ensure long-term security for the national water supply. The country has no rivers, minimal rain, and it has drained most of its underground aquifers, which cannot replenish themselves to meet demand. The only source of fresh water is from desalination, which is both expensive and relies on energy. At present the UAE's desalination plants all rely on gas from the country's hydrocarbon reserves, but in the long term that resource will run out. This is why the new plans for nuclear power are so important, since the energy it generates can be used to produce more fresh water.

However, given that water is expensive to produce, it is vital that the UAE develops a strategy to treat it as the costly resource that it actually is, rather than a free commodity that people can use and waste as they wish. A shocking 76 per cent of the country's water goes on agriculture, leaving industry and domestic use a minuscule 24 per cent of the total. Irrigation is a notoriously wasteful way to handle water. Therefore, to achieve a balanced long-term strategy, the country will need to review how it manages its agriculture.