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Saudi Arabia

Country focus
Sabrina Kraaijenbrink - Doetjes
Sabrina Kraaijenbrink-Doetjes
Project Manager International

It is the largest country in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and on the Arabian Peninsula. It is located in a sub-tropical desert region with most areas experiencing an arid climate. The summer is hot and dry while the winter is dry and cool. Scarcity of freshwater resources is a problem in all of the Gulf countries, and it is no different in Saudi Arabia. More than 80 percent of all freshwater consumption goes to agriculture. Innovation in seawater desalination is necessary to continue to meet demand. There are opportunities here for Dutch companies with expertise in this field. One of the major projects Saudi Arabia is working on is the development of the new city NEOM. NEOM stands for 'new future'. This new green city in the province of Tabuk will soon cover an area of 26,500 square kilometer. That is almost as big as Belgium.

Opportunities for the sector in Saudi Arabia

In general, there are opportunities for the Dutch water sector in providing solutions for flash floods, water losses and Non Revue Water. Also, for maximizing treated sewage effluent reuse, expanding water distribution networks and capacity of desalination plants, and developing cost-effective desalination technologies, potable water storage reservoirs and water efficiency improvement in terms of reduction and awareness. In addition, water efficiency in agriculture and irrigation (more crop per drop) is important for Saudi Arabia.

One of the more concrete opportunities for Dutch companies and knowledge institutions is the development of NEOM. Those opportunities are spread across 16 different sectors that NEOM focuses on, ranging from agriculture and water to e-health. More information about this project can be found here. In January 2021, NEOM launched The Line, a 170-kilometer urban strip based on the principle of zero cars, zero streets, zero emissions. This starts the next phase of the project. Companies can now register to participate in tenders at a later stage.

Source: 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 Saudi Arabia 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 countries, 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.


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 Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf? Contact our Project Manager MENA, Sabrina Kraaijenbrink-Doetjes.

Saudi Arabia is part of

Middle East

Country focus within Middle East