By Team PureBlue Water: Connecting Blue and Green Networks (Ivory Mast, Adetunji Alabi, Savanna Kok, Mansour Alhimairi, Abdulrahman Alkatheeri, Saffana Ahmed)
Wetskills is of course all about water, but when you think about the United Arab Emirates (UAE), you probably first think about a desert and lack of water. The first experience with the UAE for our Dutch team members was, however, rain. Leaving the airport in Dubai, we could almost not believe what we felt falling on our heads. We thought to have escaped the cold and rainy weather from the Netherlands to come to a much warmer and especially drier climate.
As the programme took off the next day in the Al Ain Zoo, the beginning of the day was plagued with some even more raindrops. The local participants did not see the rain as a bad experience, although it brought some colder weather as well. It hasn’t been raining for almost two years here, so the rain was very welcome. Especially farmers were happy with these rare days of precipitation. Luckily, the temperature went up a little in the last couple of days, so the international participants still get to enjoy some of the typical UAE winter weather.
As the programme moved to a hybrid format at the last moment, we unfortunately were not able to meet everyone in-person (yet). However, the first introduction activities in the Zoo were great. What is better than being able to enjoy the sun, see all different animals and get to know each other better by doing a Crazy 88? From assignments like ‘pose with the Arabian leopard’ or ‘go under water without getting wet’ or even crazier like ‘tell a zookeeper that a given animal used to be yours and you want it back’. As a team we felt confident that we earned the most points, but we are still waiting for the results.
The next day we were finally able to start working on the case that was assigned to use: the case of PureBlue Water, a Dutch water technology company. Our team is a mix of people coming from Nigeria, UAE, Oman and the Netherlands. Working together is an unique experience as we all have very different backgrounds and expertise, and meanwhile we learn a lot about each other’s cultures and our common interest: water!
We all need water for living, however the perception about water differs quite a lot around the world. In our project we work on the reuse of treated wastewater, as it could be an excellent solution to overcome freshwater shortage in arid areas. Reuse is possible in different ways, such as for landscaping and industrial cooling. However, with the current state of the art technology it is possible to treat water up until natural quality, free of persistent contaminants, such as pharmaceutical residues, so that it can be reused. We found out during our work on the case that the social perception in relation to reuse of treated wastewater for farming is not as obvious as it may seem. The challenge in our case lays in getting local water consumers aware of the safety of the technology and to get them to trust the water for use in agriculture. This will especially be more important towards the future as the effects of climate change are more and more affecting the freshwater resources. Combining our different perceptions and knowledge is therefore quite important, but also a great learning opportunity.
We most definitely look forward to presenting our outcomes of this case study with PureBlue Water at the World Expo 2020 at the end of the week!