With the Abraham Accords signed and sealed on September 16, there have been many labels used to describe this monumental agreement. Critics in the region have called the accords an arms deal dressed up as a peace agreement—even saying that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain badly negotiated the deal—while supporters in the region have hailed the accords as ushering in a new era of peace and cooperation in the Middle East. Beyond normalizing relations, the peace agreement is expected to bring collaborations in various sectors, including food and water security issues.
Water scarcity remains a critical matter to the Middle East and specifically to the Gulf countries. Water resources are in short supply, even as the demand for water grows with socio-economic development and population growth. According to the World Resources Institute (WRI), thirty-three countries are estimated to suffer from a severe water crisis by 2040; half of these countries are in the Middle East, with the top ten including all the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. In order to mitigate this coming predicament, countless ideas have been thrown around. One suggestion was the importation of water from the Antarctic and other areas of the globe. However, complicated economic and technical issues proved the idea not feasible.
Chronic water problems come with their own sets of challenges. Understanding water insecurity means looking past the issue of supply shortages and into the political, social, and economic landscape. Societies depend on water for survival and its absence impacts their health and livelihood; from sanitation services to economic activities like agriculture, energy production, and transportation. When societies are unable to provide for themselves, countries will be unable to achieve economic stability and growth, which in turn leads to the inability to alleviate the impacts of urbanization, climate change, and the rise of protests that may lead to political tensions.
Consequently, water security promotes stability and plays a major role in mitigating national security threats. As a result, Gulf governments have paid increased attention to water security policies and concentrating on better water management practices and technology-driven developments, as found in the UAE’s Water Security Strategy 2036, Oman’s Vision 2040, and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 Qatrah program.
With that being said, there is a strong belief among…