French water management company Veolia is expanding its Middle Eastern presence with the establishment of a regional office in Abu Dhabi.
Veolia plans to capitalise on the rapid development in the region by targeting local municipalities and industrial firms, offering services in drinking water distribution, wastewater treatment and seawater desalination.
Despite infrastructure development on a large scale, the Abu Dhabi office opening comes at a time when infrastructure development in the United Arab Emirates is experiencing a boom period. However, the region’s rapid growth has prompted concerns about water and energy facilities being unable to cope with future growth.
More than $155bn in investment is needed over the next decade if energy infrastructure capacity in the Middle East, north Africa and south Asia region is to meet growing consumption, according to research by UAE-based infrastructure specialists Septech Emirates. Although the region is rich in oil and gas, the country’s natural resources are tied up in export contracts and re-injection into ageing oil wells.
But chief executive of Veolia Water, Africa, Middle East and India, Patrice Fonlladosa is optimistic about the Middle East’s ability to support its own growth. “There is the money, the competence and the political will to ensure the right infrastructure and make the Middle East an attractive place for investors and service operators like us,” he tolf fDi.
Veolia Water has won five contracts in the Gulf region since 2006, including water desalination plants in Bahrain, Marafiq in Saudi Arabia, Qidfa in Fujairah, Sur in Oman, and wastewater services in Ajman, Muscat and Palm Jumeirah. But the firm has chosen to base its regional headquarters in Abu Dhabi.
“We chose Abu Dhabi as our Middle Eastern hub for its business-friendly environment, availability of staff and the fact that it is more cost-effective than places like Dubai,” said Mr Fonlladosa.
And while other emirates in the UAE and regions in the Middle East may run short of gas in the short term, Abu Dhabi has sufficient gas reserves to meet its own internal demands, Colin Lothian of energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie told the Financial Times.