Are There Any Rivers In Saudi Arabia?

A water reservoir in Saudi Arabia.
A water reservoir in Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a nation in the Middle East or the western edge of the continent of Asia and spans an area of 830,000 square miles. Saudi Arabia is the 2nd largest country in the Arab world, the 5th largest in Asia, and the 12th largest in the world. It is the only nation with a coastline along the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf with most of its terrain being composed of barren desert, lowlands, and mountains. Saudi Arabia has the largest economy in the Middle East, and as of 2018, it was the 18th largest economy globally. Saudi Arabia has no permanent rivers within its border. It is one of the 17 countries in the world without rivers.

Water Resources In Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia had deep water holes around the 'Al-Kharj and lakes at the Layla Aflaj up until the 1980s. They were fed by massive underground aquifers that were formed several millions of years ago. The 'Al-Kharj was a critical source of drinking water. Unfortunately, due to the excessive drawing of water for agricultural and domestic use, all of the sources have been dried up. However, there are Wadis that serve as the source of water. The Wadis refer to a valley or a dry river bed which contain water, especially during the rainy season. The Wadis are particularly located in the gently sloping parts or the almost flat areas in the deserts, and they start at the distal parts of the fans and extend towards inland. Wadis exhibit a pattern of the braided stream because of the deficiency of water and the excess of sediments. Often Wadis could develop a dam of sediments which could lead to a change of the patterns of the stream during the next flash floods. Saudi Arabia stores approximately 6 billion cubic feet of water in the more than 200 dams found in the Wadi Bisha, Wadi Jizan, Wadi Fatima, and Najran among others.

Desalination In Saudi Arabia

The water supply in Saudi Arabia is under the Ministry of Water and Power. Aside from the wadi aquifers, the country gets its water from the sea. Presently, the country is the largest maker of desalinated water in the world. The state-owned Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) runs 27 desalination plants which produce 106 million cubic feet of potable water every day. The state-owned corporation is responsible for about 60% of the desalination in the country. The desalinated water is used for consumption in urban areas, as well as in the industries. The desalination costs the country $1,000 per acre-foot, while a simple purification process costs about $200 per square acre-foot. The country is now exploring other cheaper means of desalination process to cut costs.

Water Recycling In Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has several recycling plants in different parts of the country, and it has an ambitious plan to recycle 65% of its wastewater by 2020, and to recycle more than 90% by 2040. According to the Global Water Intelligence, Saudi Arabia’s water reuse is the world’s third-largest valued at $4.3 billion.


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