December 11, 2017 - WEF's Patrick Dube blogs about Water Arabia 2017, where the focus was combating water scarcity in the Middle East.

Surging demand for water and a changing climate throughout the world has caused an increased concern for our water supplies around the globe.  Although clean water is a major issue throughout the world, the Middle East is one of the most water-stressed parts of the world and as a result, the region is facing critical water scarcity issues.  Frequent droughts, low water reserves, and rising populations all combine to place many Middle Eastern countries in the “extremely high-water stress” range.  Saudi Arabia has recognized that water is a critical issue and has begun to take steps towards fixing the country’s water problem.

The leading Water Environment Federation (WEF) Member Association in the Middle East, the Saudi Arabia Water Environment Association (SAWEA), hosts a conference and exhibition every two years and this past October, I was invited to travel to Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia to attend.  The theme for Water Arabia 2017 was Sustaining Water Resources Through Innovative and Reliable Water and Wastewater Treatment Technologies.  The conference highlighted a wide range of topics specific to the region, focusing heavily on water reuse and desalination, two areas that Saudi Arabia are world leaders. Featuring workshops, seminars, and a vendor exhibition, the conference was additionally supported by the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Environment, Water & Agriculture and offered an opportunity to discuss solutions to water scarcity in the Kingdom.

Accompanied by WEF Past-President, Dr. Mohamed Dahab, I was able to engage the 1,000-plus attendees of the conference inform them about WEF’s current initiatives, as well as the many benefits our membership provides.  We were visited by His Excellency Eng. Mansour H. Al Mushaiti, the Deputy Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, with whom we were able to discuss the excellent work that SAWEA is doing in the Middle East.  To further foster a commitment to students and encourage more participation from universities in Saudi Arabia, Water Arabia 2017 hosted its first student poster competition. I was honored to judge both the undergraduate and graduate competitions and present the winners of each category with WEF student memberships.

Water Arabia 2017 provided an excellent occasion for water professionals in the region to come together and discuss critical topics that will be necessary to address to help combat the region’s water scarcity issues.  Furthermore, it allowed WEF to display its ongoing dedication to water issues while learning from and supporting one of our many critical international member associations throughout the globe.

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About Patrick Dube, Ph.D.

Patrick Dube, Ph.D., has recently joined WEF as the new practice lead for resource recovery. In this role, he serves as liaison to the Residuals and Biosolids Committee and helps support biosolids technical and communications enterprises. Patrick earned his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees in Biological Engineering from the University of Florida. His research background with UF and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service has ranged from anaerobic digestion to biofuel production to nutrient removal.

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