In the latest edition of its popular TECHtalks series, Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), part of Qatar Foundation Research and Development (QF R&D), recently hosted Mr Abdulsattar M. Al Rasheed, Chief Executive Officer for RAF, Qatar Electricity and Water Company, to discuss water management and Water security challenges currently facing Qatar and the Arabian Peninsula. He was joined at the two hour talk by a panel of distinguished research experts; Dr Adel Sharif, Research Director of Qatar Energy and Environment Research Institute (QEERI) and Dr Mohamed Shamrukh Mahmoud, Expert in Water Resources at Qatar’s Ministry of Environment.
With a Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering from California State University Sacramento, Abdulsattar Al Rasheed is also an active member of the American Society of Engineers. He has worked on several key issues like defining water quality and outlining the technical complexities of desalination, he has delivered an in-depth history of the worsening water challenges Qatar and the region face and proposed several clear steps to combat these challenges and reverse unsustainable trends.
Focusing in several instances on the value of innovative technologies in fixing the problem at hand, the steps listed include: building a secure regional network of desalination plants and fresh water reservoirs; Optimizing the amount of water spent on local agriculture; collaborative investment in water production; promoting initiatives like Kahramaa’s Tarsheed program to encourage sustainable consumption behaviour and raise awareness about conservation of water; and exploring renewable water production options to ensure sustainable and reliable sources.
Having served in the water and power industries for 32 years, Al Rasheed is widely published on the topics of power and desalination plant management. He is currently a member of the Bahrain-based Water Science & Technology Association and GCC CIGRI – a group of GCC Engineers based in Saudi Arabia. He pointed out that Qatar faces a unique set of challenges with respect to water scarcity, due to a shortage of reliable surface and fresh water sources.
According to Qatar’s inter-ministerial Permanent Population Committee (PPC), Qatari residents currently consume 675 litres of water per capita per day – approximately twice the average consumption in the European Union (EU). Given that Qatar’s population is expected to increase nearly eightfold by 2050, the demand for water is likely to increase significantly.
“The quality of life of future generations rests on how we manage these key resources and what habits or mechanisms we implement today. Quality water is quickly becoming a scarce resource and unless we realize the perils of inaction today, it may be too late to recover. Already the impact of water shortages has been felt in many parts of the world and technology development has a key role to play in reversing unsustainable trends,” Al Rasheed said.
An audience of industry specialists, researchers and students engaged the panel experts in an active question and answer session, focusing on what the future holds for Qatar’s water shortage and the role technology plays in addressing challenges. Panellists agreed on a core set of recommendations to improve current conditions, stressing that the region as a pioneer in water security and innovation, while the solutions themselves pave the way for further economic diversification and opportunity. The first member of the panel; Dr Adel Sharif is currently leading the Water Security Grand Challenge program at the Qatar Energy and Environment Research Institute. Prior to his current post, he was a Professor of Water Engineering and Process Innovation, and Founder Director of the Centre for Osmosis Research and Applications, (CORA) at the University of Surrey.
“Qatar’s growing economy and population make water scarcity an issue of increasing importance, but we are confident that the goals we set are achievable given the manpower and technology we put in place. We are eager to provide a solution, and this calls for substantial investment in improved desalination technologies, which could involve solar energy or new ways of filtering our salt. We are looking for an effective solution by 2020, and a commercial partner that can help us make a big change in Qatar and in the region itself,” he commented.
Joining Dr Adel Sharif and Mr Al Rasheed in the discussion was Dr Mohamed Shamroukh Mahmoud. Dr Mahmoud currently works as an Expert in Water Resources at the Water Department in Qatar’s Ministry of Environment. He is also a Professor of Environmental and Water Resources Engineering and has published more than 33 papers in peer-reviewed international journals and recently co-edited a NATO publication.
“There are 6 projects related to water in Qatar Development Strategies 2011-2016 including National Water Act. This will enhance the water management in Qatar applying the three pillars of integrated water resources management (IWRM).Plans in Qatar are underway to secure the supply of potable water for 90 days in emergency situations via constructing mega reservoirs and ASR projects,” he added
Having brought top industry figures from Qatar’s health care, telecommunications, energy and transportation sectors to QSTP, TECHtalks continue to be a sought-after forum for knowledge-transfer to technology focused entrepreneurs, SMEs and professionals in Qatar. It is one of several on-going QSTP programs supporting technology development, innovation and commercialization in Qatar.
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Monday, March 31- 2014 @ 13:19 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.