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The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Nov 12, 2010

The Arab Annual Environmental and Development Water Report

The Arab National Environmental and Development Annual meeting that was held in Beirut, Lebanon during the first week of November 2010 concluded with a very strong warning regarding shortages of water in the Arab world (aljazeera.net, 11/5/10).

The report revealed that the Arab world region is the most dry area in the world and water shortages will increase rapidly and will negatively impact the more than 360 million people in the region. The individual water share will drop below 500 cu.met. per person per year. The world average is 6000 cu.met. per person per year.

Furthermore, the Environmental Report revealed that due to global climate changes and the increasing world temperature, there will be a negative impact on rainfall in the Middle East and North African region. It is projected that rainfall in the area will decrease at least 25% and evaporation will increase by 25%.

The water shortages at the present in the Arab world should also be viewed in connection with the rapidly increasing population, which is projected to reach at least 600 million people by the year 2050. The Environmental and Development report strongly recommends a drastic change in governmental policy toward the regulation of water use in addition to the creation of a new strategy to increase the availability of water to meet at least the minimal required human needs. Without such changes, the Arab world will soon start experiencing dangerous and negative economic, political, social and health consequences. In previous posts on water, references were made that large percentages of the water used in cultivation, which is estimated between 80 and 85%. Most of this is wasted. Irrigation by flooding the lands is an outdated method that has been used for thousands of years. The new scientific irrigation method is through water dripping. For example, the present amount of water used in Egypt, according to scientific estimates, could irrigate at least 27 million feddan. Since many Arab governments are not working on plans to provide new sources of water, then at least they should start implementing a new policy of water usages. Furthermore, not only do Arab farmers misuse and waste water resources, but individual consumption affects the situation as well. One of the main reasons behind such water waste is attributed to the low cost of water to the consumers. In many Arab states, human water consumption is subsidized by the government. A new rate of water consumption prices should be created that will take into consideration the economic abilities of the various groups to pay the new rates. In general, water consumers do not pay attention to water consumption until they start paying for it.

I have personally seen in different locations in Egypt where water has been left running while someone is washing a car or tending to a garden. Furthermore, the water pipes network should be checked to prevent water leakages. Even in the most advanced countries water leakages from old pipe networks is not unusual. Nevertheless, Arab states can’t afford such water loss. In addition, the majority of Arab states do not have a complete nor efficient water treatment system. More than 80% of the untreated water is wasted. Such waste should be seriously considered in light of the present water shortages. At least some recycled water could be used for irrigation of golf courses and agricultural cultivation instead of fresh water.

The Arab population constitutes 5% of the world population, but has only 1% of the world’s fresh water supply. As a result of such situations, the Gulf region, which is the driest part of the Arab world, has been depending more and more on water desalination for water consumption. Nearly 70% of water desalination in the world takes place in the Gulf region. It is an expensive method to get fresh water, but most of the Gulf states have resources of energy and the public consumers hardly pay a fraction of the water cost. For that reason, water consumption in the Gulf region is among the highest in the world.

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