The investment estimate was “conservative,” Loay al-Musallam, head of privatization and deputy minister of planning and development at Saudi Arabia’s ministry of water and electricity told a power and water conference.

A new national water company being set up to help boost the desert kingdom’s supplies will be operational this month, he added.

Rapid economic growth fuelled by record oil export revenues is boosting demand for water across the Gulf region. Saudi Arabia is the world’s top oil exporter. (Reuters)