The first Oman Water Week took place in Muscat, Oman, on 22-24 January. The conference focussed on how Oman can transform its water sector to become more resilient, sustainable, flexible, and efficient. The Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) and the Netherlands Embassy in Muscat jointly organised the Dutch water sector representation, facilitating speaking engagements. No less than three cooperation agreements were signed between various Dutch organisations and stakeholders in the water sector in Oman. These cooperation agreements are the result of the long-term commitment from both the Omani and Dutch water sectors to work together and help shape the future of water.
The Sultanate of Oman has committed to a sustainable economy and the Government has developed a road map to achieve net zero by 2050 through strategic initiatives aimed at reducing the carbon footprint in its key economic sectors and building a sustainable future.
In line with this policy, Nama Water Services (formerly Oman Water & Wastewater Services Company, OWSSC) took the initiative to host the Oman Water Week, an annual gathering to engage all key stakeholders to discuss how the water sector could be the enabler for sustainable development in Oman.
NWP organised speaking engagements for several organisations from the Netherlands in various conference sessions during the event. Next to that, NWP members Kiwa and Hydraloop presented their solutions and services at the accompanying exhibition. The Dutch representation also actively engaged in several side events during the week.
From 22-24 January, Oman Water Week provided a platform for experts, researchers, policymakers, and industry professionals to share their insights, exchange knowledge, and engage in meaningful discussions. The event focussed on how Oman can transform its water sector to become more resilient, sustainable, flexible, and efficient. In addition, the event centred on presenting the latest developments and updates including water production, transmission, and distribution, wastewater and environmental services, and industrial water applications.
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The Dutch Water Envoy, Meike van Ginneken, presented a video message at the Opening Ceremony of Oman Water Week. She stated that while Oman is a very different country than the Netherlands with different water challenges, both countries face common issues such as urbanisation and saltwater intrusion. Solutions can be found by applying three main principles: to work with the best available engineering and technology solutions; to take water and soil as guiding principles in spatial planning and economic development; and, to protect and take care of fresh water resources, as groundwater is extremely important in Oman as well as in the Netherlands. She urged the audience to “Make sure you think about solutions and how to apply them at scale so that together we can ensure that we have a water secure world!”
Later, as part of the conference programme, Ghada Sukkar, Energy and Climate Policy Advisor of the Dutch Water Authorities, presented fossil free water processes.
Amir Raoof, Associate Professor at Utrecht University, also attended Oman Water Week. He is working with Ruud Schotting, holder of the Sultan Qaboos Quantitative Water Management Chair at Utrecht University, and in partnership with the Dutch Embassy in Oman and Oman's Ministry of Higher Education, on a collaborative interdisciplinary platform that operates under the R&D section of the Memorandum of Understanding on Green Energy between the Netherlands and Oman. This collaboration aims to strengthen academic research ties in the fields of water and energy.
A highlight of this partnership will be a joint multidisciplinary symposium scheduled for April during Oman Sustainability Week (28 April - 2 May). The symposium will bring together scientists and researchers from both countries spanning over 10 scientific disciplines to address challenges in Water and Energy.
On 23 January, Kiwa and Nama Water Services renewed their contract. Signed at the Oman Water Week, the contract renews the fruitful cooperation between Kiwa and Nama Water Services over the past three years. During this time, Kiwa performed product evaluations and on-site factory audits for the Nama certification of products associated with drinking water for the Omani market.
The contract was not only renewed, the Kiwa scope of services was extended to the certification of drinking water chemicals and wastewater products. In providing these services, Kiwa will continue to support Nama Water Services and contribute to a more sustainable water sector in Oman. Kiwa is a global TIC company, providing testing, inspection, and certification services. It operates in a wide variety of market segments, ranging from drinking water, construction and energy supply, to healthcare, food, feed & farming. Its areas of expertise include lab testing and corporate social responsibility. Kiwa services clients in manufacturing and process industries, business services, public and private utilities, governments, and international institutions.
On 23 January, Wetskills and Nama Water Services entered into an MoU for the next three years on ‘Collaborating on inspiring and capacitating young talents in water and sustainability from Oman’. The intention is to collaborate on organising Wetskills events in Oman, with Nama Water Services helping with expertise, participants, and cases. The aim is also to allow Omani participants to participate in Wetskills events outside Oman, such as the events in the Netherlands. The MOU partners will also look at how they can further develop and implement promising ideas with WetsNext, and bring and keep the Wetskills Alumni together as a community in Oman.
Wetskills and Nama Water Services have worked together several times in the past. This week Wetskills organised its fifth regular Wetskills event in Oman, the first of which took place during Queen Beatrix's state visit to Oman in January 2012. Just under 100 Omani participants have taken part in various Wetskills events since then, mainly in the Netherlands and the MENA region. Local partners, such as Sultan Qaboos University as local host, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Oman, GUtech (German University of Technology in Oman), MEDRC (Middle East Desalination Research Center), and the Oman Water Society were also involved in the events.
The third cooperation agreement signed on 23 January was for Non-Revenue Water solutions to be tested in three different pilot areas. NWP member Witteveen+Bos is working in a joint venture with local partner YAS Consulting Engineers (YAS CE) to facilitate the pilot projects assigned by Nama Water Services.
Wetlands and mangroves are of enormous value for nature and humans. In Oman, there is great potential to revive, restore and expand mangroves, with benefits ranging from ecotourism to the generation of foreign exchange earnings through international carbon credit markets.
A stakeholder meeting on Wetland and Mangrove Ecosystems Implementation was organised by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Oman in cooperation with Qualies (the Oman-based organisation for quality and innovation strategies). The event took place on the fringe of the Oman Water Week on 23 January at the Residence of the Dutch Ambassador.
On Wednesday 24 January, the Dutch delegation met with the Dutch Regional Business Development (RBD) team. The team, working from the Embassies in the Gulf region, identifies business opportunities for Dutch companies involved in the energy transition and water sector. The RBD team uses its network to help Dutch companies with tender processes, setting up collaborations, or investigating financing options.
All in all, Oman Water Week presented the Dutch water sector with excellent opportunities for networking, exchanging ideas and experiences, exploring opportunities for cooperation, and developing a better understanding of the water market in Oman. The next stop will be Oman Sustainability Week from 28 April - 2 May in Muscat, Oman.
Are you interested in exploring business opportunities in Oman, the UAE and the Gulf region? Or to further expand your presence? Then team up with other companies working in water supply, wastewater treatment, desalination, water distribution, and renewable energy for the mission programme at the Oman Sustainability Week 2024. More information is listed in our calendar of events. If you have any questions feel free to contact Marieke Leenhouts of NWP.
The interaction between Dutch organisations and Omani counterparts at the Oman Water Week is the result of the diligent work and dedication of all the partners in the Oman Strategic Task Force on Water, and in particular of the drivers at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Oman. NWP is very grateful for the continuous support for the Dutch water sector provided by the Ambassador and her colleagues.
NWP runs the Secretariat of the Oman Strategic Task Force on Water and supports the Netherlands Embassy in maintaining bilateral relations between Oman and the Netherlands on water. NWP chairs the Dutch side of the Task Force. If you are interested in knowing more about potential business opportunities in Oman and other Gulf countries, contact NWP Project Manager Sabrina Kraaijenbrink-Doetjes.
Should you be interested in working in Oman, or other countries in the Gulf region, don’t hesitate to contact Marrieke van Oversteeg (Oman) or Heba Leith (Qatar) of the Dutch Regional Business Development team. Or send the team an email to receive a copy of the regional water report or the hydrogen report.