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  • Origin: Where does the drinking water come from? What lakes or rivers are there? How often does it rain?
  • Availability: Does the country have plenty of drinking water or is it scarce?
  • Infrastructure: How widespread is access to safe drinking water and sanitation? What condition are pipes and sewers in?
  • Water usage: What is drinking water in this country used for? How much does every person use per day?
  • Projects: What projects regarding drinking water (supply or demand management) are planned, on-going or completed in this country?
  • Opportunities and threats: What are the biggest problems facing this country in the future? What is being done to solve them?
  • Norms and regulations: How is drinking water regulated? Are there efficiency standards for water-using appliances?
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United Arab Emirates

The climate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is arid and drinking water is a rare and thus incredibly precious resource. Average rainfall is only 78mm per year, one of the world's lowest rates 1.

There are no permanent rivers or lakes; some springs and falajes (water canals) provide a small renewable supply of water. By 2002, there were 88 dams in the UAE with a storage capacity of 100 million cubic metres 2. All these water sources are called conventional.

As conventional sources do not provide sufficient drinking water, the UAE rely heavily on non-conventional sources of water, such as desalination and recycling of used water. For example, Abu Dhabi receives most of its drinking water by desalination 3.


As a result of severe water scarcity, the cost of water is on the rise. In the last 10 years, water cost has increased by 30% due to rapid groundwater shortage in regions such as Jordan, Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula 4

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Does the country have plenty of drinking water or is it scarce?

Availability

In the UAE, the renewable internal freshwater resources per person were only 17 cubic metres (2011 data); only Kuwait and Bahrain have an even lower rate 1.


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How widespread is access to safe drinking water and sanitation? What condition are pipes and sewers in?

Infrastructure

What is drinking water in this country used for? How much does every person use per day?

Water usage

The water consumption rate in the UAE is exceptionally high. It has been estimated at 550 litres per person per day, more than twice the global average of 250 litres 1.

Agriculture is by far the biggest water user. According to FAO, in Abu Dhabi in 2003 83 percent of all water was used for irrigation (agriculture, forestry and amenities), 15 percent for domestic purposes and less than 2 percent for industrial purposes 2.

On top of this, a common problem in the region is the overuse of water in the agricultural sector which accounts for 67%-85% of total water usage in the Middle- East. Spray irrigation uses 12-15 litres to water 1m², from which 30% evaporates. Although the government has introduced a new and more efficient technique: drip irrigation, which uses 35% less water and could save up to 8 litres per m² per day; it has yet to be reinforced by the government.3


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What projects regarding drinking water (supply or demand management) are planned, on-going or completed in this country?

Projects

Abu Dhabi's Waterwise, an initiative of the Regulation & Supervision Bureau, devised and implemented its Residential End Use of Water (REUW) Project in 2012-2013 1. The goal of the project is to get data on where, when and why water is being used in Abu Dhabi households. This knowledge will help develop effective water demand management strategies. As part of the project, high-resolution meters were installed in 150 villas in gated communities in Abu Dhabi. In addition, a survey of participating residents was conducted to learn more about their water usage.

In more detail, the REUW Project has the following objectives:

  • Collect accurate statistics on where and how customers actually use water within their homes
  • Find out which groups in Abu Dhabi generally use the most and least water, and how each group uses water
  • Determine the split between indoor and outdoor water use
  • Determine the scale of water leaks


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Authors

09:17, 19 Aug 2016Aline T.Hong Kong
09:15, 19 Aug 2016Aline T.Hong Kong
13:48, 14 Apr 2014watersaving.comSwitzerland
13:44, 14 Apr 2014watersaving.comSwitzerland
13:23, 14 Apr 2014watersaving.comSwitzerland
13:20, 14 Apr 2014Omar A.UnitedArabEmirates
09:12, 04 Apr 2014watersaving.comSwitzerland
09:09, 04 Apr 2014Omar A.UnitedArabEmirates
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