What have been some of your biggest achievements over past years?
Essam Zahra The National Water Works Company is a private company working in water activities, specifically water pumping. Water requires a full solution and there are many processes to move the water from the source to the final users. Saudi Arabia is about 2.2 million sqkm, and there are around 25 cities and not one river. National Water Works Company is an international leader in water equipment for pumping and we bring that technology to Saudi Arabia and apply this technology. Our major achievements involve upgrades to technology; we can now tap water reserves from wells deeper than ever before, often exceeding 2,000m. We completed the range so we are the only company in Saudi Arabia that can provide any type of wells or pumps to serve local projects. Thanks to our reputation we were awarded the Riyadh Water Enhancement Program (RWEP), launched in 2011 by the ex-Governor of Riyadh to avoid water cuts in summer. National Water Works Company handled this project to realize the strategy. In short, the requirement was to drill 43 wells in Riyadh and to install 25 water treatment plants. But even though a project of this size needs two to three years to complete, the authorities asked for it to be done within six months, which required a miracle. This was really a unique project and many pumping providers in the world could not do it; the only company that met the needs and took on the challenge was National Water Works Company. In six months, we supplied 43 units and installed those pumps in the wells and we ran it.
Mahmoud Fallatah Nesma Water & Energy is focusing on water infrastructure. We did a couple of projects in greenfield infrastructure including two big projects for the development of about 7 million sqm of residential and industrial areas in King Abdullah Economic City. This covers the complete utilities infrastructure such as water piping, storm piping, and sewer piping, as well as electrical cables and roads. In addition to that, we constructed 13 desalination plants for the national water company with a total capacity of 65,000 cbm per day. Water meters with house connections and operations and maintenance services are also part of our targeted scope. We operate the smart cities and the small villages that belong to them for Dwadmi and Affif in the Riyadh region. Now, we are building four desalination plants with The Saudi Industrial Property Authority (Modon). These are industrial areas where we are supposed to provide the means of water distribution, ground wells production, desalination, reservoirs, tanks, and tanker filling stations.
What opportunities do you see in the fact that the Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture says water is one of the most attractive future investments in Saudi Arabia?
EZ Vision 2030 has forced all the active authorities in the Kingdom to plan and design their initiatives to meet the requirement of the reforms. This is not an option; it is a must and a duty—it is why all services and utilities in the Kingdom will be handled by the private sector. So from now until 15 years down the road everything should be settled in that line and water and energy is number one. That is why the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture hosted the Water Investment Forum recently in Riyadh, as this was the picking-ground for all the interested investors in the water industry to extract and explore what opportunities would be suitable for them. More than USD50 billion has been announced for PPPs or BOTs.
How could privatization affect your business?
MF This is good news for us. In my personal opinion the water sector is undergoing a big transformation program and most of the projects could be privatized. The BOT, BOO, IPP, and IWPP will dominate in the sector. There will be water treatment and sewage treatment plants that will be tendered this year. Now, The national water company is managing Jeddah, Riyadh, Mecca, and Taif, and soon another 19 cities in the country will follow them. That is good news because the entire system for the water in these small cities that used to be under the government and Ministry of Water will be nested under the national water company.