In March, I wrote about the United Arab Emirates banning bottled water exports; this followed a similar ban in Saudi Arabia. It sounds like it might be spreading. Oman has announced that it is also looking at banning exports of bottled water.
Dr Abdullah bin Ali Al Hinai, Acting Director-General of Industry at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, gave details of the export volumes and short falls via the Oman News Agency*.
There are some interesting numbers here… The Director-General gives figures of 14 million litres of bottled water exported from Oman in 2010. This is just 10% of the volume exported from the UAE in the same year. I’ve had a quick look at water use in Oman, where the total water use is estimated to be 1.5 billion cubic meters of water every year, increasing to 1.7 billion cubic meters by 2020. So bottled water exports represent just 0.001% of total water use.
Now, I raise this not in defence of an export ban of bottled water, but more to highlight the point that other industries that use significantly greater volumes of water, such as the dairy industry, may be targeted next. Bottled water is an obvious example of water being exported, however the water contained in other products (the virtual water) is much less obvious but may become significantly more important as pressure on resources increases. The consequences of this could be bans on exports of dairy products.
As always, i’ll be watching the next steps very closely.
Dr. Ric Horobin
Water & Environment Director at Zenith International
P.S. I’m sure this and other hot industry topics will be discussed at Zenith International’s upcoming Global Bottled Water Congress taking place from 8th – 10th October in Barcelona. You can review the Congress and book your place online here.
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*Source: Times of Oman. You can read the full story here.