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Oman

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Oman
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Sabrina Doetjes
Sabrina Kraaijenbrink-Doetjes
Project Manager MENA region, Water & Conflict

The Sultanate of Oman is facing severe challenges in the field of water management and the Netherlands, well known for its water knowledge, is cooperating with the Omani Government to overcome them.

Oman has limited fresh water resources, with 2014 estimates putting total renewable water resources (excluding desalination) at 1,400 million m3 per annum. Since the 1970’s, desalination has played an important role in supplying the country’s potable water needs. In contrast to its neighbouring countries, Oman has favoured a 100 percent private sector ownership structure for its water and power plant (IWPP) programmes. Government policy is to move away from utilising groundwater reserves towards desalination. Desalination plants in Oman are smaller than those in neighbouring countries due to population distribution. Moreover, Oman has significant surface water resources, which means that water can be supplied from dams.

Taskforce on Water

While bilateral cooperation has been ongoing for many years, it was intensified in 2017 when the Oman Netherlands Taskforce on Water was established. Since then there have been numerous successful follow-up meetings and exchanges of ideas and recommendations. The cooperation is continuing and is offering new opportunities for the Dutch water sector. Oman is especially looking into the water efficiency expertise that the Dutch water sector offers.

The Taskforce comes together to strengthen the relationship on water between the two countries and exploring concrete opportunities for water cooperation. In an interview published by Waterforum (in Dutch) the Dutch Ambassador to Oman shares her views on the value of the reciprocal exchange of knowledge between Oman and the Netherlands, and the opportunities it brings. NWP Managing Director, Bianca Nijhof, has headed the Taskforce since 2019. “Our Omani counterparts value the integrated approach to water challenges adopted by the Dutch, like in the Delta Programme,” she says in this interview. Sharing knowledge on preventing and controlling drought is an interesting exercise for the Dutch too as the Netherlands is experiencing severe droughts again and has a growing need to move to new solutions too.”

Looking to the future, NWP foresees many more potential opportunities for cooperation and sharing of expertise, and we aspire to connect the Dutch water sector to these opportunities.

Together we can drive our water ambitions into the future.

Water challenges

Challenges in Oman’s water sector are numerous. Some of the major ones are: water shortages; energy-intensive desalination; high water consumption in the domestic sector; unsustainable groundwater use in the agricultural sector; misdirected subsidies; and the lack of appreciation of integrated water resources management (IWRM) principles by decision makers.*

Opportunities for the sector in Oman

For Dutch companies looking to enter the Omani WEF market, engaging with the right stakeholders is critical. Doing business in Oman and the wider region requires a certain level of adaptability and fluidity – brought on by sharp climatic, regulatory and cultural contrasts when compared to Europe and other regions. In Oman, ministries are driving strategies on resource conservation and diversification linked to the WEF Nexus, while pressured to boost economic diversification and employment. While WEF security is high on the government agenda in Oman, Dutch companies will also need to showcase their best practices, solutions and expertise – by actively engaging with local entities and cultivating those relationships in the long term and integrating elements of local employment and sustainability in their business models.*

NWP works closely together with the Dutch Economic Network in the Gulf Region, including Muscat, which is a very useful diplomatic channel of entry for Dutch companies looking to enter the market.


*Used sources:

Fanack Water provides accessible, well-researched information on the state of water resources in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region through peer-reviewed country files and special reports, as well as interviews and opinion pieces on latest developments in the water sector of each MENA country.

Market Report Gulf region water sector   – 2018, commissioned by Netherlands and You. Netherlands and You is initiated by the Dutch economic network in the GCC to connect business needs in the region with Dutch solutions.

Water & the Gulf countries

The Gulf, in which Oman is located, is among the most water-stressed areas in the world. At the same time, it is also one of the highest water-consuming areas. The agricultural sector is by far the largest consumer of water in the Gulf, accounting for around 85 percent of fresh water, nearly all of which comes from non-renewable underground sources.

Opportunities for the sector in the Gulf

In light of the UAE’s ambition to ensure its food security and its need for potable water, many opportunities for cooperation in the water, energy and food sectors are arising. The Dutch water sector is becoming increasingly present in the region, especially in the domains of water technology. It is expected that the coming years will offer more opportunities for the Dutch water sector to expand its activities in the region, mostly through the EXPO2020 Dubai and the strategy of the Government of the Netherlands to focus on water-energy-food in the Gulf.

Collaboration

Together with the Regional Business Development Team of the Dutch Embassies in the Gulf countries, NWP is actively involved in various initiatives that lead to collaborative projects between the Dutch water sector and counterparts in the Gulf countries. NWP’s activities include providing market information about the Gulf countries to the Dutch water sector, organising (virtual) trade missions and tailor made events; and the facilitation of partnership building. 

Interested to know more about the Oman and other countries in the Gulf? Contact our Project Manager MENA, Sabrina Kraaijenbrink-Doetjes.

Oman is part of

Middle East