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UAE to host global water conference next year
by Staff Writers
Abu Dhabi (AFP) Jan 16, 2012

Abu Dhabi will host an international summit on water next year, Sultan Ahmed al-Jaber, the head of a project to build a zero-carbon city on the outskirts of the UAE capital, said Wednesday.

"It gives me a great pleasure to announce (the) launch of the International Water Summit 2013 that will take place in Abu Dhabi next January," Jaber told reporters at the World Future Energy Summit in the Emirati capital.

"As countries... seek to prosper to raise their standard of living and provide their communities with health and security, we are all facing serious challenges," he said.

"In our tireless effort to develop, we have consumed and almost exhausted our water resources," said Jaber.

The Middle East and North Africa are home to 6.3 percent of the world's population but have just 1.4 percent of the globe's renewable fresh water, Jaber told the conference.

"We have to launch studies in order to find new solutions to satisfy the needs of our future generations," said the UAE's environment and water minister, Rashed Ahmad bin Fahd.

The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) warned in 2009 that water resources in the capital may face depletion in 50 years unless prompt action is taken.

The emirate, which sits on some 95 percent of the country's oil, aims to be a centre for renewable energy, through projects such as Masdar City, which is to be powered solely by renewables.

Masdar, a government initiative established in 2006 to advance renewable energy and sustainable technologies, is building the zero-carbon city as an example of future eco-friendly cities.

But the development has slowed down, pushing its completion date from 2016 to between 2020 and 2025.

The estimated cost of the city has also dropped from $22 billion to no more than $19.8 billion.

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