Dubai: Winners who produced innovative solutions for securing clean water for poor communities were collectively presented the $1 million (Dh3.67 million) ‘Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Water Award’ in Dubai on Wednesday.
Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Media Council and Chairman of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation,honoured the 10 winners, from eight countries, at a ceremony for the award’s second cycle, organised by the UAE Water Aid Foundation (Suqia).
Praising the positive impact of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, Shaikh Ahmad said it reflects the UAE’s commitment to giving, which is an integral part of the country’s ethos and the vision of its leadership.
Suqia says its goal goes beyond providing potable water to those in need, and the award is instrumental is identifying “how innovative and sustainable technologies can be part of the solution to the global water crisis”.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, first announced the global award in 2014 to find sustainable solutions to water scarcity, using solar energy, in areas and communities facing poverty or disasters.
Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, and Secretary-General of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, said: “The award is part of the UAE’s effort to contribute to protecting the world’s fragile water ecosystems as well as focus on a strategic approach to water security. It enhances cooperation between key stakeholders and helps to support the provision of clean and safe drinking water. The award has proven to be a tremendous success, particularly in the area of solar-powered solutions to support clean drinking water.”
On Wednesday, the winners of award’s second cycle were announced in three categories: Innovative Projects Award, Innovative Research and Development Award, and Innovative Individual Award.
There were 96 applications from over 30 countries for the latest award cycle.
In his keynote welcoming the winners and guests at the ceremony, Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer, managing director and CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, and chairman of the board of trustees of Suqia, said the need for potable water is ever growing. Three in 10 people have no access to safe water resources; 2 billion use contaminated water and 700 children die daily because of using unsafe water and poor sanitation, Al Tayer said, citing research.
Al Tayer added that the award plays a key role in solving such crises by encouraging sustainable and innovative solutions. Suqia, in cooperation with Emirates Red Crescent and Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment, has benefited 9 million people in 36 countries, he added.
Dr Thani Bin Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “Using innovative solutions has become the best way to overcome challenges in our societies. The UAE has prioritised innovation, thanks to the directives and vision of its wise leadership. The UAE has become a global incubator and platform for innovation, employing modern technologies, and enhancing innovation, especially in sustainable development.”
Speaking to Gulf News following the ceremony, Mohammad Abdul Karim Al Shamsi, acting executive director at Suqia, said the winning solutions from the awards could be implemented, commercialised or developed further.
“If we see potential to take it to the next level, we contact the winners separately to see if there is potential collaboration in the future to do so,” Al Shamsi said.
“We were surprised with the youth, who came up with very good ideas. So this year, Suqia decided to give two awards jointly.”
Joint winner of the Innovative Individual Award-Youth Award, Dr Mohammad Wakil Shahzad (Pakistan), told Gulf News his innovation focused on linking two existing technologies that normally operate separately in making seawater drinkable.
“We used hybrid, not individual, technology by combining MED [Multi Effect Desalination] and AD [Absorption Desalination], thereby overcoming the limitations found in them separately. So your efficiency increases. It can be used anywhere in the world and there is no issue with scalability – both MED and AD are well-established in the industry. Linking them together is our innovation, and we can do that on any scale. What’s more, since we’re using solar energy, we’re saving carbon emissions and no chemicals are used in the process,” said Dr Shahzad.
- Innovative Projects Award – Small Projects: GivePower Foundation (USA), first place
- Innovative Research and Development Award – International Institutions: Liquinex (Singapore), first place
- Innovative Research and Development Award – National Institutions: Khalifa University (UAE)
- Innovative Individual Award - Youth Award (Joint Winners): Jan Radel (Germany) and Dr Mohammad Wakil Shahzad (Pakistan).
- Innovative Individual Award – Distinguished Researcher Award: Mahmoud Shatat (Palestine)