By Team Witteveen & Bos: Musthafa Mavukkandy, Karima Faidi, Mariam Shaker, Hadeel Najjar, Julian Gerritsen
Ever since we heard about the Wetskills program, we have been curious to participate. Increasing population, urbanization, industrialization, and climate change put severe pressure on the existing water bodies and require us to invent novel ways of producing freshwater—be that desalination or water reuse or atmospheric water harvesting, or effective water management practices and developing new policies on water pricing and distributions.
Wetskills facilitated a thriving environment for fostering innovation and proposing new (out-of-the-box) solutions to real-world problems. Furthermore, it also develops future water professionals and policymakers during this process.
Wetskills 2022 brought young international talents to work on challenges shared by three industrial partners and one local university. It was indeed education put into practice. There were 4 cases—(a) developing a decision-support tool for helping UAE farmers with the best info on groundwater use, (b) encouraging the local community to drink tap instead of bottled water, (c) proposing a hydropia blue-green network, and (d) developing a net-zero, circular used water treatment for UAE and Singapore.
WetSkills-2022 was a tremendous learning experience. We learned many things related to the circular, carbon-zero water and resources recovery plant. We also faced a few challenges, especially the limited time to conduct the comprehensive techno-economical analyses. However, we came up with an excellent solution.
The whole experience has been a rollercoaster from the start in Al Ain to the grand finale at the World Expo in Dubai. It has been a crazy experience, and the time pressure certainly gives it a unique twist, especially towards the end of the program. In just two weeks, the experiences we’ve gained are intense, and a blog would not do them justice.
If you get the chance to join a wetskills event, you should.
If you get the chance to visit a significant event like the World Expo, you should.
So seeing that wetskills tends to end at one of these major events, you should consider joining! It was indeed a knowledge-gaining and knowledge-sharing program, and hence we would love to participate in it again.
When reflecting upon our personal experiences of participating in Wetskills, it doesn’t come down to one word or feeling! It has been hectic, challenging, yet amusing to see our team members progress and develop inspirational ideas in just two weeks! It was a lovely rocky road experience, I would say. Besides working on the case, we enjoyed our outings and dinners that allowed us to meet and socialize with the other water experts (participants).
One of the best things we did together was the desert safari, which we really enjoyed! Overall, despite the stress, it was an amazing learning experience to unleash our creativity. Wetskills-2022 participation advanced our knowledge and skills related to the current water sector, threw some light on the challenges, and helped us develop a practical (a bit ambitious in hindsight) solution for a challenging problem brought by the market. It also allowed us to share our knowledge with fellow participants from different countries with various backgrounds. The program also reiterated the importance of pitching our ideas before someone.
Supervisors and experts gave us multiple workshops and training on making compelling pitches, posters, and papers. We also learned that people (and jury) love simple, relatable solutions more than complex, ambitious ones (we will keep this in mind for the future 😊).
We realized the importance of making the big picture right, in addition to focusing on the intricate details. For that, we want to thank our excellent supervisors—Rick and Ioana, for being there with us throughout the program and for being fantastic at systematically running the events and mentoring each of us. This program opened new doors for us to explore, like the Dutch Wavemeker Academy and the Water Footprint Network, which we are considering joining.