The reality of the geographical location of the UAE means that it is one of the 10 most arid places on Earth — but the shortage of water has never stood in the way or been an impediment to our growth. If anything, it was a challenge that needed to be overcome just so that the full and unbridled potential of the UAE could be achieved. Right now, the UAE also consumes about 15 per cent of the world’s desalinated water.
Naturally, every effort needs to be made to ensure that any and all water resources here are carefully managed and planned. In Abu Dhabi, for example, at Al Dhafra near Liwa and after 15 years of planning and preparation, a new reservoir has come on stream at a cost of Dh1.6 billion. It can store 5.6 billion gallons of water — enough to provide 1 million people with 180 litres of water for 90 days.
While we in the UAE appreciate the intrinsic value of fresh and clean water, others around this world who have it in abundance are less passionate and practical about the resource. Waterways are often polluted, spoilt by effluent and run-offs, making it impossible for fish and other wildlife to thrive, and effectively making its use as a drinking-water source unrealistic. Lakes have been irrevocably damaged by acid rainfalls of previous decades, or industry and intensive agriculture uses way more than they should.
As World Water Day passes, we should take a moment to realise just how precious water it — it is truly the stuff of life. We simply need to turn off our taps, think twice, reduce our usage and recycle it wherever possible.