The private sector will be required to play an important role in enabling the Middle East to meet its future water demands, says Ghassan Ejjeh, senior vice-president at Belgian construction firm Besix.

Ejjeh, a member of the International Desalination Association (IDA), told MEED’s Water and Wastewater 2012 conference that most of region’s governments will not be able to meet the water demands of their rapidly growing populations.

“The private sector must be a vehicle used going forward to meet water demands,” said Ejjeh. “Apart from, maybe, Abu Dhabi and Qatar, no other government can continue with long-term subsidies as they are in the current form.”

The conference was told by an Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Company (Adwec) representative that the organisation expects water supply demand to increase by an average of 5-6 per cent a year in the UAE capital in the years to 2020.