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Sun 3 May 2020 04:44 PM

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Middle East water supplies will be under pressure post-Covid-19

Regional MD for Xylem says greater emphasis on cleanliness will place further strain on supplies

Middle East water supplies will be under pressure post-Covid-19

Frank Ackland, managing director, Middle East & Turkey at Xylem.

A world free from coronavirus could pose significant challenges when it comes to the demand for water supplies, according to the managing director, Middle East and Turkey, at Xylem.

Frank Ackland told Arabian Business: “9/11 changed the way we fly; I think Covid is going to change the way we interact.”

That includes greater emphasis on cleanliness and washing your hands for 20-30 seconds, and as a result, will pile further pressures on water systems throughout the world and, in particular, in the Middle East.

“The issue of scarcity makes us really have to think about how we use water. Building networks is expensive so we’ve got to really focus on services and a digitally communicating network is vitally important,” said Ackland.

“If we look at some of the numbers across the world, I think it’s 1.8 billion people every day don’t have access to clean drinking water.

“Not necessarily in the Gulf countries but if you go up into the Levante area, there’s areas of water scarcity. Definitely around the availability of clean water. There’s certainly areas within the African and Middle East region where there are real, major concerns and major issues that need to be addressed.”

Xylem is a leading water technology company committed to "solving water" by creating innovative and smart technology solutions to meet the world's water, wastewater and energy needs.

Ackland said Dubai is “ahead of the pack” in terms of the deployment of smart metering and digital technologies.

However, work still needs to be done to address the non-revenue water (NRW), which is how much water is being lost from the source to the customer.

“Numbers vary around the world, anywhere between five or 10 percent, sometimes up to 35-40 percent depending on the age of the network,” he said.

With a global staff of 16,000 and 200 people working in the region, Xylem operates from its headquarters in Dubai’s Jebel Ali, with offices across the region as well as franchise services, and a large presence in Istanbul.

Last year the company signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) to look at ways of solving water issues in the kingdom.

“Saudi Arabia is a very important market for us,” said Ackland.

And despite the economic upheaval caused by the current coronavirus pandemic, he revealed plans were still in place to expand across emerging markets, Africa, Middle East, India, South East Asia and China.

He said: “Across that whole region we’re very passionate about growing that area of the world. There is a massive opportunity to really make an impact.”

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