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Saudi Prince Khaled Bin Sultan, Deputy Minister of Defense and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water, called on Arab countries to reconsider the ways they use water, especially in agriculture.

He warned, “If Arab countries do not act now in conserving water, then disasters of drought and deadly thirst are inevitable.”

Prince Sultan was speaking at the opening of the fifth International Conference on Water Resources and Arid Environments in Riyadh on Sunday night.

The conference is being held under the sponsorship of Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense.

Prince Khaled, in his address, thanked the organizers for holding this conference amid turbulent international political situations, critical economic conditions and very difficult water challenges.

He added, “Ninety percent of the Arab region is barren desert with low and limited water resources and high evaporation rates reaching 80 percent.

Also, 50 percent of water in the Arabian Peninsula is groundwater due to the nonexistence of rivers in most of the Arab countries. Aquifers are the main source for such water. Not only that, they are the only source of potable and replenished water.”

“The confusion in the political situation in a number of Arab countries has led to economic repercussions as there is no progress and prosperity without stability and system,” he said, adding that due to the Arab political scene and quasi-economic collapse, the most important pillars of human security are affected, particularly water, food, energy and environment.

He pointed out that the Arab world faces severe aridity. He added that there are factors contributing to worsening of the water scarcity, including that some countries spend money on arms or investing unwisely. These countries ignore the investment in the provision of water or in searching for alternative sources of providing water.

Prince Khaled said that one of the innovations is called “Dry Water” which contributes to the rationalization of irrigation water, especially in reforestation projects.

In a press statement, Prince Khaled praised King Saud University for its efforts in the fields of academic and scientific research.

In his speech, Abdulmalik Bin Abdulrahman Al-Sheikh, Secretary General of the prize and Chairman of the higher steering committee of the conference, said the meeting aims to provide a scientific framework for awarding Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water. It also aims to exchange knowledge and share information in water resources and desert-related fields.

He added that the conference will explore the use of new technologies in the study of arid and semi-arid environments and their natural resources.

Al-Sheikh stressed that the event provides an opportunity for decision-makers, experts and scientists to share their expertise in order to find integrative and comprehensive solutions for water resource problems.

Saudi Gazette

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