Riyadh, May 3, 2011

The Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) started yesterday a 5-day water efficiency workshop in Riyadh, organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Water and Electricity in Saudi Arabia. The workshop, held at the Riyadh Marriot Hotel, is sponsored by ACWA Power International, a leading water and power company.

The opening session was addressed by the Deputy Minister of Water, Dr. Mohammad Alsaud and AFED’s Secretary General Najib Saab. Among participants was a delegation of the Water and Public Works Committee of the Saudi Shura Council, alongside high level representatives from various stakeholders, including the Ministry of Water and Electricity, Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), King Khaled University, the Saudi Fund for Development, ACWA Power, Miahona, Bushnak Group, Al-Turki Group, and a host of water operations managers from the private and public sectors.

The action-oriented workshop discussed in its first day strategies for achieving systemic water efficiency gains in both public and private sector organizations. “AFED is proud to play a leading role in disseminating practical knowledge about efficient water use in our region,” said Najib Saab, Secretary General of AFED, in his opening welcoming statement. “AFED will continue to make available resources for companies, municipalities, and public agencies in the region to enable them achieve the highest possible standards for water efficiency,” Saab stressed, drawing attention to the close linkage between water security and food security. “I would like to thank ACWA Power for the company’s sponsorship of this workshop,” he added.

Mohamad Alsaud addressing the opening session

Dr. Mohammed Al-Saud, Deputy Minister for Water Affairs in Saudi Arabia, expressed the Ministry’s support for this workshop in his opening statement. He noted that “achieving the highest levels of water efficiency is an utmost priority for the Ministry, to ensure sustainable development, while supporting economic growth.” Alsaud explained his Ministry’s plans to reduce water losses and expand the re-use of treated water in productive activities.

“The free 5-day program consists of two days of presentations and interactive exercises to develop water efficiency concepts and programs”, said Dr. Murat Mirata, workshop leader and Associate Professor at Lund University, Sweden. “Over the following three days, field visits to three different facilities will be organized to conduct water audits on site. A questionnaire has already been sent to the manager of each facility to collect data and gather information that will assist workshop leaders in planning the water audit.” Facilities which will be subject to water audits as part of the workshop include the Riyadh Marriot Hotel, A. Abunayyan Group Building in Riyadh, and the Ministry of Water and Electricity building.

The workshop complements the AFED Water Efficiency Handbook produced in 2010. Acknowledging the importance of, and the need for, demand side measures, the handbook helps water users in all key sectors of society-industry, agriculture, and residential and commercial buildings-identify opportunities to increase water use efficiency. A series of similar workshops is planned by AFED over the coming months in various countries of the region.