Dubai: As water scarcity rises in the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East, a new university degree is giving students the chance to study how to minimise waste and improve quality.
It is widely acknowledged that the UAE and its neighbours could face severe water shortages in the coming decade.
The School of Built Environment at Heriot Watt University in Dubai has introduced a Diploma of Water Resources to its postgraduate programme to train future specialists in the region.
Desalination in the UAE, a necessary but energy-intensive technology, produces 1.3 billion cubic metres of fresh water to meet the needs of the population and industry. Around 400 million cubic metres is produced from treated greywater and used to irrigate parks.
According to Mohammad Al Bowardi, Secretary-General of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, the UAE faces growing challenges, with water usage 24 times the total annual renewable resources, Gulf News reported last year.
Speaking at the Water Leaders Forum organised by the Arab Water Academy in July 2010, Al Bowardi, who is also managing director of the Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi, said: "Irrigation accounts for 76 per cent of the water use in the country. With the UAE's population estimated to grow massively by 2030 and given the massive economic development plans, our water scarcity problem may grow more acute."
Dr Olisanwendu Ogwuda, academic head and director of studies at the School of the Built Environment at Heriot Watt's Dubai campus, said the Water Resources programme was developed from an existing one delivered at the university's main campus in Scotland.
"Water scarcity, supply, and treatment are very topical issues," Ogwuda said.
The course is partnered with the Emirates Green Building Council. The aim of the programme is to provide a comprehensive understanding of sustainable water resource issues and develops the knowledge and skills necessary for planning to meet the needs of the built and natural environment within the context of climate change.
Students will devise usage models and travel around the region, one of the driest in the world, where fresh-water availability is 30 per cent below the level needed for security.
"This entails modeling real-life situations such as water and waste-water treatment, water conservation, irrigation and integrated water management," Ogwuda said.
"There will be industrial input to the studies including individual research projects."
Other degrees introduced in Dubai this year include Facilities Management and Urban Real Estate Management and Development.
- 76%: irrigation's share of UAE's water supply
- 400m: supply in cubic metres from water treatment plants
For more information, contact Heriot Watt University, Dubai Campus at 04 361 6999 or email: email@example.com