Water Crisis in Saudi ArabiaWhile 97% of Saudis have access to potable water, Saudi Arabia is classified as one of the most water-scarce nations on the planet. The absolute water scarcity level is 500 cubic meters per capita, per year. Saudi Arabia has only 89.5 cubic meters per capita, per year. Despite high levels of water access in the Kingdom, severe overconsumption and lack of reliable renewable water sources have made this issue a top priority. Many view oil as the most important natural resource in Saudi Arabia. However, due to the water crisis in Saudi Arabia, water is becoming increasingly valuable.

The Current Situation and Implications

While the Middle East and North Africa region is no stranger to water scarcity, modern consumption and waste levels have raised the stakes. These issues have disproportionately affected the poor. In some areas, more than half the water used exceeds sustainable levels and 82% of wastewater is not purified for reuse. The Guardian reported that Saudi Arabian per capita water consumption levels are double the world average at 263 liters every day. These levels indicate that the Kingdom is using more than four times the water that renews on average.

The two major sources of water are rapidly disappearing groundwater and the sea. In addition, the groundwater accounts for 98% of natural freshwater. Each accounts for 50% of the water consumed in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is the largest country to rely so heavily on desalination. However, it is extremely expensive and causes serious environmental concerns due to carbon emissions. While this issue is not immediate in that Saudis are not currently dying of thirst, it does loom over individuals who live in the region. Water is now the key to survival in the country that oil discovery transformed. Additionally, if the water crisis in Saudi Arabia is not solved, there will be severe humanitarian and geopolitical consequences for the unstable Middle East and the U.S.

Government Efforts

In 2019, Saudi Arabia launched a national program called “Qatrah,” which is Arabic for “droplet.” This program is a part of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture. It intends to slash water consumption by about 43%, to 150 liters per capita, per day by 2030. Currently, Saudi Arabia is behind only the U.S. and Canada for per capita water consumption. Hence, this water conservation program is a significant endeavor that is badly needed to improve the sustainability of water supply in the Kingdom. Qatrah is meant to encourage change in individual behavior by raising awareness of the issue. In addition, the program rationalizes water sources to best protect natural resources and all aspects of life that depend on water.

Another important aspect of Qatrah is reducing water consumption in the agricultural sector. As previously mentioned, agriculture consumes the vast majority of water in the Kingdom. Because of this, the Ministry that oversees Qatrah has plans to increase the regulation of water in this sector. The Ministry also decreases its overall consumption in order to shift more water toward the urban sector. There is a government-driven campaign to preserve and protect water is invaluable. Movements like this struggle without direction and support from the government of the country in which they operate. Thus, the aggressive plan has helped to successfully bring the water crisis in Saudi Arabia to the national stage.

NGO Efforts and Other Strategies

Suez is an international corporation dedicated to achieving sustainable management of the world’s resources. In Saudi Arabia, Suez has worked in Jeddah to improve access to drinking water. According to Suez, desalination plants supply almost all the water consumed in Jeddah: 98% to be exact. The population continues to grow in the water-scarce city. As a result, Suez has pledged to make drinking water accessible 24/7, repair links in drinking water networks and improve the efficiency of wastewater collection. Moreover, Suez has successfully decreased the amount of time it takes to repair leaks throughout the network. This proves to be an easy and vital way to preserve water.

In this endeavor, Suez has 1,400 local employees who support the delivery of about 830,000 cubic meters of water to people in Jeddah every day. According to CNN, strategies are less expensive or difficult than desalination. In addition, decreasing overall water use includes wastewater treatment, groundwater recharge through capturing rain and stormwater and allocating water differently. These methods combined with practices are already in place. Additionally, it could help fight the water crisis in Saudi Arabia.

The water crisis in Saudi Arabia is not currently claiming the lives of millions. However, it continued the unsustainable water consumption in one of the most water-scarce countries in the world. Like most geopolitical and environmental issues, the poor will suffer the worst in Saudi Arabia if the government does not manage the pending crisis responsibly. Luckily, there has been a concerted government effort, through its Qatrah program. The program slashes water consumption and consumes it more efficiently. This effort has strong support from NGOs like Suez. Suez focuses on other aspects of the crisis to help the Saudi people save what is becoming their most precious resource: water.

Connor Bradbury
Photo: Flickr

Child Labor in Saudi Arabia
Many know Saudi Arabia as one of the richest countries in the world. With the second largest natural oil reserve underground, Saudi Arabia is rapidly accumulating wealth and political power in international affairs. However, there is a dark side to the flashy urban lights of Saudi Arabia. The wealth gap that exists between the rich and the poor, coupled with the country’s patriarchal tradition and its recent conflict with the Houthi movement in Yemen, puts many Saudi and immigrant children in danger of child labor, violence and economic exploitation. Here are 10 facts about child labor in Saudi Arabia.

10 Facts About Child Labor in Saudi Arabia

  1. Poverty is the main cause of Saudi Arabia’s Child Labor. While Saudi Arabia is famous for its wealth, thanks in large part to the second-largest oil deposits in the world, there is a big economic disparity between the poor and the rich. According to a study that the Saudi Arabian government funded in 2015, 22 percent of families in Saudi Arabia depend on their children’s income.
  2. The minimum employment age is 13. In the royal decree of 1969, Saudi Arabia enacted a law that set the minimum employment age to 13 years old and banned children from working in hazardous conditions. This does not apply to works in the family business, domestic labor and agricultural work. Some employers of Saudi Arabia exploit a loophole in the law. For example, this law does not address the child brides of Saudi Arabia. If a child bride does any house chores or agricultural work for her husband’s family, it will not be a violation of the minimum employment age law.
  3. There are cases of child labor trafficking from neighboring countries. Stemming from Saudi Arabia’s recent conflict with Yemen, which left Yemen devastated, wartorn and practically lawless, some Yemeni parents are seeking illegal agents who will traffick their children to Saudi Arabia. While some Yemeni parents traffick their children to Saudi Arabia to save them from the desperate conditions in Yemen, other parents traffick their children in hopes of economic relief provided by their children’s labor in Saudi Arabia. While deportation is the main concern of many Yemeni parents for their trafficked children, many trafficked Yemeni children are in danger of violence, hunger and sexual abuse.
  4. Child workers usually have parents who have low professional and education level. The low education and professional level of child workers’ parents, coupled with economic disparity, make poverty in Saudi Arabia hereditary. Saudi Arabia is taking steps to ameliorate this issue. In early 2018, the Saudi government declared that it aims to eradicate adult illiteracy by 2024. Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education established adult education centers across the country and launched the Learning Neighborhood program in 2006 in pursuit of this goal.
  5. Children of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia do not have protection under a law that prohibits forced or compulsory labor. Saudi Arabia’s labor law does prohibit forced labor, however, these measures do not extend to over 12 million migrant workers in the country. Some employers exploit this loophole in the labor laws, which sometimes results in physical, mental and sexual abuse of migrant workers and their children.
  6. Saudi Arabia’s citizenship requirement puts Saudi children in danger of child labor and human trafficking. A Saudi child’s citizenship comes from his or her father. If a child has a citizen mother and a non-citizen father, or from a mother who is not legally married to a citizen father, there is a chance that the country will consider the child a stateless person. As a result of being stateless, Saudi Arabia can deny a child state education, and in certain cases, medical attention. According to the U.S. Department of State, about 5 percent of street begging children in Saudi Arabia are Saudi nationals of unknown parents.
  7. The Saudi government is working with the international community to combat child labor. In 2016, with technical advisory services support from the International Labour Organization (ILO), Saudi Arabia ratified its report for ILO’s Minimum Age Convention of 1973. According to the United Nations’ 2016 report on Saudi Arabia’s adherence to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Saudi Arabia adopted and implemented regulations against child abuse and human trafficking. As part of the new labor reforms and regulations in 2015, for example, the Labor Ministry of Saudi Arabia can impose SR $20,000 ($5,333) on employers who employ children under 15-years old.
  8. In 2014, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF) launched a campaign against child labor in Saudi Arabia. For 19-days, WWSF campaigned to raise awareness for child labor, abuse and violence against children and youth. The National Family Safety Program of Saudi Arabia also launched its four-day program which raised awareness for economic exploitation and abuse of children in Saudi Arabia. Through these campaigns, both WWSF and the Saudi government aimed to reduce child labor in Saudi Arabia by highlighting that child labor contributes to the abuse of children by harming children’s health, physical development, psychological health and access to education.
  9. UNICEF and the Saudi Ministry of Social Affairs opened a reception center for trafficked Yemeni children. Many trafficked Yemeni children end up in the streets of Saudi Arabian cities as beggars or street vendors. In the worst cases, these trafficked children are under severe danger of exploitation and abuse. When the Saudi authorities detained them, these Yemeni children usually went to prison or open-air enclosures with adult deportees. The center provides shelter for these children.
  10. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 aims to address the country’s poverty. Launched in April 2016, the Saudi government plans to address the country’s poverty by improving state education and empowering nonprofit organizations. These improvements can lead to making more opportunities available for the children and parents of poor economic background, potentially reducing child labor in Saudi Arabia. In this pursuit, the Saudi government granted $51 billion to the education sector. The Ministry of education established educational centers all around the country to improve adult literacy and theories determine that this improvement in adult literacy will also improve child literacy.

Child labor in Saudi Arabia is both a local and international issue. While the stateless and poor children of Saudi Arabia turn to street vending and begging to support their families, many trafficked Yemeni children in the country are under constant threat of violence and exploitation. These 10 facts about child labor in Saudi Arabia show that with the help of the international community and the Saudi government’s increasing awareness of its less fortunate populace, a better future awaits for the children of Saudi Arabia.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Water quality in Saudi ArabiaIn our world, water is one of the main sources of sustenance for life. As our body requires great amounts of it, it is imperative that we take care of how clean and beneficial it continues to be. As a community, we must work together to meet the high standards of water quality.

Water quality is indicated by various characteristics which include physical, chemical, biological and aesthetic. The main goal is to make sure that the external factors that could corrupt the water are controlled. In this way, citizens are able to obtain clean drinking water for their survival.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is a desert country that extends across most of the Arabian Peninsula with extensive coastlines on the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Due to its high levels of heat and humidity, water is a major concern.

The surrounding environment consists of sand, which makes it a challenge to grow crops as well as provide adequate water quality in Saudi Arabia. Most water is received from the sea, however, the high salt content means is it not drinkable. Being one of the largest and fastest expanding expat countries, Saudi Arabia faces a problem of providing enough drinking water for its citizens.

According to a research study on drinking water quality in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Abdulrasoul Al-Omran and his colleagues found that the KSA strongly relies “on groundwater and/or seawater desalination for domestic purposes.” Desalinated water has gone through various chemical processes in order to add specific minerals into the original saline water that will cause it to diminish and thus become safe to drink.

There are 27 stations operated by the Saline Water Conservation Corporation, producing more than three million cubic meters of potable drinking water. 

The water quality index (WQI) has been proven to be a simple and effective tool to assess the quality of water, as well as a method of reassuring citizens. The distinct and astounding feature is that by using several water quality variables, a single value is expressed to tell just how clean this water is in relation to others.

The concluding factor of this study stated that using the WQI method helps the design-makers with monitoring and assessment of the quality of drinking water. By being able to determine the water quality in Saudi Arabia, the country and its citizens will be more fully prepared in finding solutions to best distribute their water.

As an ever-evolving country, Saudi Arabia is striving to keep up with its growth by providing efficient ways to distribute the water. One of the solutions that KSA has found is intermittent water supply with reduced system pressures. Although it isn’t the most efficient, it does grant more water to the people that truly need it. It aims to provide 24-hour service but less water is distributed to the residential areas.

This is a challenging issue to remedy as many residents who live in Aramco, the expat compound, have tried to alleviate the intense salt that exists in the water quality of Saudi Arabia by incorporating a portion of sweet water. However, since the country is in an economic crisis, these residents have had to pay SAR 2,000 fee for this luxury, the equivalent of $533.33. 

Until better technology is developed to address desalination, the only solution that would be beneficial would be an increase in water imports from other countries.

– Nicole Suárez

Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About the Yemeni CrisisOne of the world’s most severe humanitarian crises is currently happening in Yemen, a desert country in the Middle East on the southern point of the Arabian Peninsula. 26 million people in the country are suffering through the conflict between Al Houthi and the Saudi-led coalition that has been going on since March 2015. These 10 facts about the Yemeni crisis highlight the struggles of Yemen‘s population.

  1. The Yemeni crisis started because of weak governance that has plagued the country for decades. In 2014, President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi was deposed by the Houthi rebels, and a coalition led by Saudi Arabia has been fighting them to restore the legitimate government.
  2. The conflict is dangerously affecting the availability of food in Yemen. As of 2017, the food crisis in Yemen could be considered a famine, according to the U.N.’s humanitarian chief. Many people have resorted to reducing the number of meals they eat and limiting portion sizes.
  3. 14 million people in Yemen do not have enough food or clean water, and seven million are at risk of dying of starvation.
  4. 385,000 children suffer from life-threatening malnutrition. 4.5 million citizens need nutritional aid and 3.3 million are considered malnourished. These rates are considered to be far above the emergency threshold.
  5. Schools and health facilities have been damaged or destroyed; exactly half of all health facilities are now closed in Yemen. Only 45 percent of health facilities are fully accessible, while 38 percent are only partially accessible and 17 percent are not functional. Many of the medical staff and teachers have left Yemen to avoid the conflict. At least two million children are not in school due to the Yemeni crisis.
  6. More than 40,000 people have been killed or injured due to warfare in the villages, losing their homes, their safety and healthcare. 3.1 million people have been forced out of their homes.
  7. Millions of people are living in overpopulated shelters or damaged homes, while 184,000 people have fled to other countries.
  8. Females are the most vulnerable people in the Yemeni crisis. Women and girls in Yemen are facing abuse, forced marriage, exploitation and violence. Violence against females has increased by more than 63 percent since 2015. About 2.6 million females are now at risk.
  9. The restrictions on commercial trade prevent the delivery of supplies of food, medicine and other essentials. Fortunately, Action Against Hunger has mobile nutrition teams working in Yemen to provide health care, nutrition, water sanitation and food.
  10. Organizations need financial support to help those struggling with the Yemeni crisis. The government funding that has been given to organizations is being used to increase food security and fight cholera, an infectious disease that leads to dehydration and often death caused by contaminated food and water.

Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Saudi ArabiaAccording to the 2011 National Millennium Goals Report, economic and social development rely on the reduction of poverty. While many times poverty is associated with material deprivation or a lack of adequate shelter, poverty is present whenever there is a basic need left unsatisfied. This can be for clothing or shelter, but it can also be in regard to proper food.

Given Saudi Arabia’s interest in accelerating and expanding all aspects of socioeconomic development, all of the nation’s needy groups have been specifically targeted. There is a wide availability of services provided throughout the Kingdom, including education, health and social services. The Kingdom’s actions have been undertaken in efforts to reduce poverty, but also to improve the standard of living and establish a “firm” middle class.

These efforts have been effective, as the number of Saudi households living below the extreme poverty line was at a mere 0.06 percent as of 2009. However, the context of the Kingdom’s poverty line is essential because it was raised nationally to $2 per day over the Millennium Goals level of $1 per day. Further, the Kingdom achieved one Millennium Development Goal by eradicating food poverty ahead of the 2015 deadline.

Fortunately, the Kingdom’s efforts to fight hunger are spreading elsewhere. Saudi officials report that both private and public donors in Saudi Arabia have made considerable donations in the Middle East and abroad as part of a global initiative to end hunger. The World Food Programme (WFP) praised Saudi support in 2006 specifically due to the Kingdom’s tenfold increase in support of the humanitarian cause from 2005. Through WFP operations, Saudi donations have benefitted nations including Lebanon, Cambodia, Palestinian territory, Pakistan and several areas in East and West Africa.

Despite Saudi success, the Kingdom must remain diligent in maintaining its successes in eradicating hunger in Saudi Arabia. While most citizens do not face hunger, some within the borders do still struggle. For example, women are particularly vulnerable to hunger in Saudi Arabia because they typically are not employed and rely on their husband’s support. By Islamic law, a widowed woman is stateless and not recognized as a Saudi citizen, which means it is also barred from welfare and aid. Additionally, the surrounding countries are permeated with hunger. Specifically, Yemen, a bordering nation, is one of the poorest and hungriest of the Arab nations.

Currently, Saudi Arabia is successfully fighting hunger both domestically and internationally. While some Saudis are at more risk, as women, as long as officials continue to focus on improving conditions, hunger is likely to remain outside of the nation’s borders.

Taylor Elkins

Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Saudi Arabia
With the first private school for girls opening in 1956 and the first public school opening around 1960, the history of girls’ education in Saudi Arabia is relatively brief. And though some gender disparity remains in the country’s adult literacy rate, the education gender gap is rapidly closing due to new kingdom-wide objectives.

Though just 91.84% of women are literate versus 96.95% of men, the disparity is significantly smaller among the youth population, with both male and female literacy hovering around 99%—an astounding rise from the two percent female literacy rate in the 1970s.

Primary, middle and secondary schools are free and open to both boys and girls. Though boys enroll at a slightly higher rate than girls—99% versus 96.35%—the education system is well on its way to gender equality, in spite of the kingdom’s reputation for severe treatment of women.

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan drives these advancements. Implemented under King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the plan aims to structure the kingdom’s social, political and fiscal future—and recognizes women’s potential to bolster the workforce. Many citizens have adopted this point of view, as well as the idea that all children, regardless of sex, gain greater opportunities to contribute as adults when they have access to quality education.

In service of these values, Vision 2030 aims to foster an educational environment congruous with the demands of the evolving job market. Schools also now prioritize students’ ability to meet personal goals.

Though public schools are divided by gender, leaders strive to improve and diversify the educational system for both girls and boys. The upcoming school year will bring an exciting new opportunity for girls in Saudi Arabia: physical education classes.

Some citizens of Saudi Arabia oppose women’s access to sports, as they are considered masculine activities, but many others are satisfied with the development. Hatoon al-Fassi, a Saudi women’s historian, anticipates that the motion will help girls to build bodily autonomy.

Advancements in girls’ education in Saudi Arabia have indeed empowered women to pursue their own potential. Beyond secondary school, many Saudi women earn advanced degrees. Data from 2015 shows that women account for 51.8% of students at Saudi Universities. Around 551,000 women are enrolled in undergraduate programs, with 24,498 in graduate programs and 1,744 pursuing PhDs. An additional 35,537 study abroad in 57 countries.

Women in Saudi Arabia faced many obstacles to get to where they are today. With the continued support of many citizens and leaders, the disparity between men and women is bound to dissolve.

Madeline Forwerck

Photo: Google

Learn about the Protecting Girls Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act.

Women in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is one of the most conservative societies in the world. Women in Saudi Arabia rely on men to allow them the rights to travel, become educated, see doctors and marry. The country was ranked 141 of 144 in the 2016 Global Gender Gap World Economic Forum study, which focused on how women fare in economies, political participation, health and education worldwide.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia recently issued an order granting women in Saudi Arabia access to government services like education and healthcare without requiring male consent. This is a significant step in the direction of women’s emancipation. Maha Akeel, director of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, stated: “Now at least it opens the door for discussion on the Guardian system.” The election of Saudi Arabia to the U.N.’s women’s rights commission a month earlier drew large-scale outrage because of this system, which is not ended by the new law.

The Guardian system is based on the premise that women are inferior to men and cannot make important decisions without them. Any woman’s father is her first guardian, and when she marries, guardianship is shifted to her husband. Many women in Saudi Arabia are abused and have their rights restricted by their guardians. This is possible because the legal system is biased toward men, and there are no female judges in the country. Women in Saudi Arabia are, in this way, deprived of independence for the entirety of their lives.

Feminist-led protests have called attention to these inequalities in the past. For example, in September 2016, 2,500 women approached the king’s office demanding the end of guardianship. A supporting petition was signed by an additional 14,000 women, and an online movement grew under the hashtag #IAmMyOwnGuardian.

Other initiatives have also moved to empower women. The Saudi government has recently encouraged women’s participation in many sectors of the workforce. Saudi Vision 2030, for example, hopes to increase the percentage of working women from 22 to 30.

Although the new law does not end guardianship in Saudi Arabia, it is a historic milestone for women in Saudi Arabia and is a step toward independence for women in the country.

Aishwarya Bansal

Photo: Flickr

Refugees in Saudi Arabia
The Syrian refugee crisis has become the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Millions of people have been forced to make new homes in foreign countries. These countries often struggle to absorb the number of refugees needing homes. Some countries, such as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, are opposed to opening their doors to people seeking refuge altogether. This article provides 10 facts about refugees in Saudi Arabia and a few problems they have experienced during their transition process.

10 Important Facts About Refugees in Saudi Arabia

  1. Refugees in Saudi Arabia have had a difficult time initially entering the country. Saudi Arabia has faced a series of criticisms for refusing to open their doors to these refugees.
  2. Social media, the news and human rights reports have taken turns in shaming Saudi Arabia for its refusal. Saudi Arabia denies these criticisms, saying that they have given residency to 100,000 people during the crisis.
  3. The country is home to a tent city, Mina, spanning 20 square kilometers and holding about 100,000 tents. Refugees in Saudi Arabia have not been permitted to stay in these tents because they hold religious significance as a stop on the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Each tent costs between $500 and $3,500.
  4. The Mina tent city has not been opened to people seeking refuge in Saudi Arabia because their government claims that this is not what such people want. The government has also voted against giving the displaced people the official designation of “refugee.”
  5. Due to increased criticism, in 2016 Saudi Arabia provided $75 million to aid refugees. However, with the number of people seeking refuge in Saudi Arabia continuously growing, the country continues to dismiss their status and refrains from putting them in refugee camps.
  6. Since Saudi Arabia is not a signatory to the U.N. Convention on Refugees, there is some discrepancy over the exact number of refugees in Saudi Arabia.
  7. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says there are between 100,000 and 500,000 refugees in the country, but some disagree that this number is not representative enough of the Saudi population of 31 million.
  8. A significant reason for Saudi Arabia closing its doors to people seeking refuge has to do with the Islamic State and Syrian Sunni Muslims. A majority of the refugees fleeing to Saudi Arabia are from Sunni areas of Syria–areas that play host to the Islamic State. Saudi Arabian forces have bombed these regions and want to know if the refugees are escaping ISIS or the bombings.
  9. The overarching reason that people seeking refuge in Saudi Arabia are being denied status or even shut out of the country has to do with issues of national security more than threats to demographic stability.
  10. The foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council have asked Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries also halting entry to refugees to find a solution to the crisis.

The Syrian refugee crisis continues to affect a large percentage of our world. The Syrians can no longer live in safety within their country, and so they seek safer lands. But the sheer number of refugees creates trouble for host countries trying to integrate refugees into society. This problem warrants a need for significant humanitarian aid and cooperation.

Katelynn Kenworthy

Photo: Flickr

During President Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, he stressed the importance of combating global terrorism and addressing extremism within the country. With a population exceeding 28 million people, Saudi Arabia’s extreme temperatures and the shortage of groundwater have been detrimental toward providing sufficient amounts of consumable water to the country. The poor water quality in Saudi Arabia demonstrates a greater risk to the region than global terrorism does.

As a leading producer of oil and natural gas, Saudi Arabia continues to hold roughly 16 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Unfortunately, declining global oil prices in recent years have significantly affected Saudi Arabia’s economy, leading to governmental cuts and taxes in order to compensate for economic losses.

These struggles have led to problematic issues for the state to address, especially the water quality in Saudi Arabia. Since the country holds no permanent rivers or lakes and rainfall is a rarity, underground reservoirs were built in order to preserve water throughout the region. In addition to these reservoirs, Saudi Arabia utilizes desalinated water.

The process of desalinization extracts certain minerals from saline water, thus creating consumable water for the region. There are 27 desalination stations throughout the country, fully operable by the Saline Water Conservation Corporation. Together, these stations produce more than 792 million gallons of water per day for Saudi Arabia, which is currently the largest country that processes desalinated water.

As oil revenues continue to decline, Saudi Arabia has begun taxing water in order to address the region’s threatening debt. These taxes support the numerous warnings that predict the region’s groundwater will run out in the next 12 years. These warnings are spread throughout several Gulf countries, primarily due to the overwhelming water consumption throughout these regions, which highlights some of the highest levels per capita in the world.

The region relies on two sources of water: groundwater, which accounts for 98 percent of the water sources throughout Saudi Arabia, and water produced from desalination plants. In light of recent warnings, Saudi Arabia continues to improve water conditions through additional desalination plants and innovative technological advancements, which hope to enhance the water quality in Saudi Arabia and save millions of lives throughout the region.

Brandon Johnson

Photo: Flickr

Refugees in Saudi Arabia and War in Syria
The ongoing war in Syria has left many of its citizens desperate for a safe place to live. In response, government officials in Saudi Arabia have allowed the entry of Syrian refugees. However, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is considered a Gulf state and thus not part of the 1951 United Nation Refugee Convention. It is, therefore, entirely up to state officials to determine if and how many refugees should be allowed entrance into the state.

Refugees in Saudi Arabia are required to possess a passport and a visa prior to entry. Moreover, the state’s interactions in the Syrian war coupled with its unwillingness to let in more Syrian refugees as compared to other Gulf states has made it subject to much criticism.

Syrian scholar Ali Al-Ahmed has inferred that one of the reasons why officials are cautious of allowing the entry of refugees in Saudi Arabia is the notion that Syrians present a major “cultural and political risk.” In other words, they fear that allowing in too many Syrians at once would constitute a major threat to security.

Currently, there are roughly 895,000 Syrian refugees in Saudi Arabia. Some are students and a large amount are adults who work full-time within the Arab state. Yet it has been predicted that the kingdom will never allow access to more than one million Syrian refugees at a given time.

According to Abdulla Al-Rabeeah, chief of the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid (KSRelief), more effort has been put forth towards assisting individuals who are in desperate need of relief. Al-Rabeeah stated that KSRelief has “carried out 127 projects in Yemen providing relief and humanitarian aid, as well as shelter, in addition to agricultural and water programs.” Furthermore, Al-Rabeeah reported that Saudi Arabia has allocated a total of $700 million in humanitarian aid and relief to 37 countries, including Syria.

Lael Pierce

Photo: Flickr