Saudi Arabia pledges technical support to Lanka in desalination projects

Rauf Hakeem

Saudi Arabia has pledged to support Sri Lanka by offering its expertise in the desalination sector, Rauf Hakeem, Sri Lankan minister of city planning and water resources, told Arab News.

Hakeem met with his counterpart, Abdul Rahman bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Fadhli, minister of water, environment and agriculture, in Riyadh on Tuesday.

“It was a useful and cordial dialogue with the Saudi minister where Saudi Arabia would offer technical support and advice on desalination projects that would be undertaken by the Sri Lankan government,” Hakeem said.

The talks were also attended by Sri Lankan Ambassador Azmi Thassim.

Hakeem said his ministry has already called tenders for desalination plants for projects in Jaffna, the northern part of the island. He said his government also intends to carry out similar desalination projects in areas like Hambantota and Kalpitiya, which are located in arid zones.

He said that Al-Fadhli has extended an invitation to a technical team from his ministry to visit the desalination plant in Jubail. “Such visits will enrich our experience in the relevant sector,” he said.

Saudi Arabia has the largest desalination plant in the world. The total length of supply pipeline is 7,000 km. It serves about 60 percent of domestic use in the Kingdom, making Saudi Arabia the largest producer of desalinated water in the world.

Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) carries out the transmission of drinking water to the beneficiary regions using a very long pipeline network with pipes ranging between 8 and 80 inches in diameter. The water is pumped through 47 pumping stations to a total of 224 water tanks, with a total capacity of 11.6 million cubic meters, in addition to 16 blending stations to mix the desalinated water with the underground water, and eight other terminal stations. Its electricity co-generation capacity has reached 7,500MW and is considered one of the major electricity producers in the country.

Hakeem explored the feasibility of joint cooperation between the Kingdom and Sri Lanka during his meeting with Abdullah Al-Abdul Karim, deputy governor for planning and development, Saline Water Conversion Corp.

Hakeem also met with Yousef Al-Basam, vice chairman of the Saudi Fund For Development and discussed the possibility of obtaining micro-credit for SMEs in Sri Lanka.

Earlier, financial lending for several projects on the island had been provided. They include $140 million for a road construction project and for the refurbishment of the Epilepsy Hospital in Colombo.

In addtion, financing came as additional funding for the procurement of equipment for the ongoing Epilepsy Hospital Project, in which $20 million has been provided to construct a fully equipped state-of-art hospital for epilepsy patients. The 10-story hospital building consists of an operation theater, Intensive Care Unit, High Dependency Unit, 242-bed male and female wards, an auditorium for capacity building for the countrywide medical staff.

The additional financing of $12 million is mainly to procure equipment including device ray CT, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine, physical therapy devices, medical furniture.


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