In March 2018, the Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) awarded ACCIONA, in consortium with Belgium company BESIX, the contract to build the Jebel Ali desalination plant, a contract valued at around 237 million US dollars or 192 million euros. The plant has a capacity of almost 182,000 cubic metres, making it one of the largest in the UAE.

The contract was awarded within the framework of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, which aims to make Dubai’s carbon footprint the smallest in the world by 2050. This project is in line with the vision for the sustainable development of Dubai of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. It also supports the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, promoted by his Highness, which aims to have 75% of the country’s total energy capacity from clean energy sources by 2050. In Dubai, we apply a holistic approach to ensure the sustainability of water resources, in line with the Dubai Integrated Water Resources Management Strategy, which focuses on enhancing water resources, rationalising water consumption and using cutting-edge technologies and innovative solutions to reduce water consumption by 30% by 2030,” said HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA.

Francisco Javier Nieto, Project Manager at ACCIONA, points out that, “this milestone is the result of good teamwork between the client, our engineers and construction teams, carried out in the adverse conditions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. We are very proud to have completed this project and to have contributed to the country’s drinking water supply in a sustainable and innovative way”.

This achievement reflects the joint commitment of DEWA, the engineering firm ILF and the construction consortium formed by ACCIONA and BESIX to deliver the Jebel Ali desalination plant in accordance with the highest technical standards of excellence. The health and safety of workers on the site has also been of paramount importance during the pandemic. Construction work on the desalination plant surpassed 6.5 million man-hours without any injuries resulting in workers being required to take sick leave.

ACCIONA is a world leader in the construction of desalination plants using reverse osmosis technology, which is more efficient, less energy intensive and has a lower carbon footprint than conventional thermal desalination. Greenhouse gas emissions associated with reverse osmosis desalination are 6.5 times lower than those associated with thermal desalination.

According to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook Report, desalinated water production in the Middle East will be 13 times higher in 2040 than it was in 2014. In a region with acute water scarcity, demand for desalinated water is being driven by climate change and population growth.

The Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 aims to reduce Dubai’s carbon footprint to one of the smallest in the world by 2050, which will require an increasingly efficient desalinated water production process.


This report will provide a summarised description of the process line and the elements that make up the desalination plant. The design, function and control of each of the process stages will be outlined below.

Published in: #81 FuturENVIRO June – July 2021