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Saudi’s war to save water

Saudi’s war to save water

Water has always been a precious commodity in the Kingdom, and it is now resorting to desperate measures to preserve the liquid.

February 2, 2010 1:35 by

Saudi’s Shura Council has passed a resolution banning the export of dairy products from the Kingdom, in order to conserve water in the country, reports Arab News. “The council decided to formulate an action plan for the ban so that the Kingdom’s population would benefit from adequate water supplies for their daily consumption and for essential agricultural purposes,” a member of the council said.

Saudi-based dairy companies that export products to neighboring countries use large volumes of water, says the report.  The council also said that discouraging the cultivation of wheat for animal fodder would help the Kingdom reduce its water usage.

According to the report, the decision to ban export of dairy items was taken earlier by the Council of Ministers but had not been implemented until now. Others government measures to conserve water such as compensation to farmers who stopped growing wheat and discouraging the production of animal fodder, have also not been executed as yet, according to some members of the council.

While the step may seem quite extreme, Saudi is desperate for fresh water. So desperate that in 1977, Prince Mohammed al-Faisal, a nephew of the late King Khalid bin Abdul Aziz, set up a company, Iceberg Transport International, to tow a 100 million-ton iceberg from Antarctica to Saudi. The journey was estimated to take around eight months and the project was expected to cost around $100 million, reported Time magazine in 1977. However, reports say that friction with seawater eroded the iceberg to almost nothing.

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