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FEWA's Ghalilah Desalination Plant Secures Freshwater Supply with Aquatech's Membrane Desalination

Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
Challenge: Federal Electricity and Water Authority (FEWA) of the United Arab Emirates faced a significant challenge in meeting the growing demand for fresh, potable water in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.
Solution: The solution involves utilizing Aquatech's advanced reverse osmosis (RO) technology to efficiently and sustainably produce fresh, potable water from seawater with high salinity levels,
Result: Implementing this state-of-the-art desalination plant has met the immediate water supply needs and set a precedent for sustainable, efficient, and technologically advanced solutions in the region

This case study highlights a groundbreaking achievement in 2014, as the FEWA completed a cutting-edge desalination facility, producing 15 million imperial gallons of high-quality potable water daily and contributing significantly to groundwater conservation, marking a pivotal step towards the UAE's goal of reducing groundwater dependency by 90% in the next two years.

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Seawater Reverse Osmosis System at Ghalilah, Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates

Ghalilah Desalination Plant: Transforming Water Sustainability in the UAE

In 2014, a landmark achievement was reached when the Federal Electricity and Water Authority (FEWA) of the United Arab Emirates, in a strategic partnership with Aquatech, completed the construction and commissioning of a cutting-edge desalination facility located in Ghalilah within the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. This state-of-the-art plant supplies essential fresh waste to FEWA’s extensive distribution network. 

This desalination plant can produce a staggering 15 million imperial gallons of high-quality, potable water daily, all meeting the stringent standards the World Health Organization set. Notably, it stands as FEWA’s most substantial desalination venture to date, with the promise of significantly contributing to conserving precious groundwater resources. It represents a significant step toward the United Arab Emirates’ ambitious objective of reducing groundwater dependency by an impressive 90% within the next two years.

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Utilizing advanced reverse osmosis (RO) technology, the plant treats seawater with salinity levels reaching 42,000 parts per million. The goal is to produce fresh, potable water suitable for consumption with a low product salinity of less than 500 parts per million.  

This cutting-edge desalination plant is among the select few large-scale facilities in the Gulf region to embrace the efficiency and sustainability of RO technology, as it has traditionally favored thermal desalination methods. This shift signifies a progressive step towards modernizing water treatment practices in the region. 

Aquatech was pivotal in providing a comprehensive, fully integrated facility on an Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) basis. This encompassed the complete infrastructure, from seawater intake to post-treatment processes. Notably, the inclusion of dissolved air flotation technology served to safeguard the plant against seasonal red tides, ensuring uninterrupted operations. 

Implementing a sophisticated Distributed Control System (DCS) serves two vital purposes: enhancing overall system performance and enabling real-time data monitoring. This investment in cutting-edge technology ensures that FEWA remains at the forefront of the desalination industry, operating a world-class facility.

The system components included: 

  • Seawater intake screening and intake pipe
  • Intake chlorination system 
  • Pump house concrete structure 
  • Dissolved air flotation (DAF) system 
  • Ultrafiltration (UF) skids 
  • High-pressure pumps 
  • Energy recovery device 
  • Seawater RO skids 
  • Remineralization system 
  • Post-chlorination unit 
  • DCS system 
  • Transformers and switch gears 
  • Electromechanical installation 
  • Comprehensive civil works related to the plant

The desalination process begins with drawing seawater from the Gulf that enters the plant through intake pumps. This seawater undergoes treatment in ultrafiltration units, an essential pretreatment phase that enhances the reliability and durability of the entire system.

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The pretreated water is then subjected to high-pressure conditions as it proceeds to the RO units. Within these units, water molecules pass through specialized RO membranes, while salts are actively rejected and diverted to a waste stream for safe disposal. The product is the freshwater obtained through the RO process, which meets the stringent quality standards essential for consumption and distribution.


The successful implementation of this desalination plant at Ghalilah has yielded remarkable results: 

  • Freshwater Production: The plant now produces 15 million imperial gallons of fresh, potable water daily.
  • Reduced Groundwater Dependence: FEWA's largest desalination plant has played a pivotal role in decreasing groundwater dependence, aligning with the UAE's goal of reducing it by 90% within two years.
  • Improved Sustainability: By adopting RO technology and an energy-efficient approach, the facility sets a new standard for sustainability in the Gulf region's desalination efforts.
  • Quality Assurance: The advanced treatment processes and comprehensive monitoring systems ensure consistently high water quality, vital for meeting the demands of the growing population and industries in the region.

The collaboration between FEWA and Aquatech in implementing this state-of-the-art desalination plant has met the immediate water supply needs and set a precedent for sustainable, efficient, and technologically advanced solutions in the region. The Ghalilah plant is a testament to innovation's success in addressing pressing environmental challenges.


This facility is a pioneer plant in term of the latest technologies that were used, which enables FEWA to save millions of Dirhams in term of reducing power consumption,” said H.E. Mohammed Mohammed Saleh, Director General of FEWA.

Get in touch with us today to discover how Aquatech can assist you with your water and wastewater treatment requirements.

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