“We have finalised a tariff structure based on UN estimates for hygienic needs,” said Al-Hussayen.

The UN estimates that, on average, a person requires 80 litres of water a day. “This means 15 cubic metres for a [Saudi] family a month [down] from the existing 100,” said al-Hussayen.

The minister declined to elaborate on the level of the new tariffs or the timetable for their introduction.

Consumers who use up to 100 cubic metres a month of water, currently pay €0.03 ($0.04) for a cubic metre.

The current rate means that a household member in an average Saudi family of six can use 550 litres of water a day, said Al-Hussayen.