The U.S.-Saudi Business Council (USSBC), in partnership with the Saline Water Conversion Company (SWCC) conducted an executive roundtable on March 3, 2022 in Huntington Beach, California to promote business opportunities within the Kingdom’s water sector.Led by H. Delano Roosevelt, USSBC President and CEO, and featuring H.E. Abdullah Al-AbdulKarim, Governor of SWCC, the event shed light on SWCC’s on-going mission towards deploying sustainable, energy efficient technologies, while highlighting massive opportunities within the Kingdom’s desalination market and the potential role of U.S. companies in contributing to SWCC’s upcoming projects.
The roundtable included notable American water companies that were carefully selected and vetted, ranging from contractors, consultants, manufacturers, and educational institutions with expertise in renewable energy technologies, water engineering, and the latest water desalination innovations, among others.
“The U.S.-Saudi Business Council is pleased to partner with SWCC in organizing this program which aims to boost international collaboration and further advancement of the Kingdom’s water industry,” remarked H. Delano Roosevelt. “As evidenced in the number of top-tier companies participating today, U.S. firms remain eager to connect with Saudi counterparts and develop lasting business partnerships.”
Speaking to attendees, H.E. Abdullah Al-AbdulKarim emphasized the Kingdom’s ambition towards becoming a worldwide leader within the sector. “This is the right time to invest in the Kingdom” he said, expanding that the Kingdom was seeking companies which would “not only serve Saudi Arabia’s water sector, but ones which would serve as global champions with a mission towards advancing research, applied technology and artificial intelligence.”
Eng. Tariq Alghaffari, Local Competencies Project Manager at SWCC, followed with a presentation on SWCC’s activities and its capabilities. He discussed the state of the global water and desalination sectors and provided an overview of SWCC’s current operations in Saudi Arabia and its progress on sustainability and innovation. He outlined SWCC’s goals of seeking providers of emerging technologies such as graphene membranes, membrane recycling, drone-based surveying, digital twin modeling, zero liquid discharge technologies, and brine processing/recycling. Eng. Alghafferi concluded by discussing SWCC’s interest in attracting investment and private partnerships along the entire length of the upstream and downstream markets.
During the event, SWCC signed two separate memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with U.S. companies. The two MOUs, signed with SWCC by Rodney Clemente, Vice President of Water at Energy Recovery Inc. and Dr. Arian Edalat, Founder of Pacifica Water Solutions, will support SWCC with access to the latest technologies in reverse osmosis pressure exchangers, membrane solutions, and process controls while providing each company a valuable partner with a commitment to advancing innovations in the global water sector.
After a networking lunch, the attendees broke out into previously scheduled one-on-one meetings with the governor and his team to discuss the technical side of possible business relationships and explore the potential for future MOUs and joint ventures. Meetings led to several potential new partnerships with SWCC and a number of new working relationships with the companies in attendance.
During their visit to the U.S., the SWCC delegation visited the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to meet with Dr. Jayathi Murthy, Dean of the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. During the meeting, the two sides discussed the potential of the rapidly growing desalination market in Saudi Arabia and the technologies being developed at UCLA that can help SWCC continue the Saudi market’s growth and transformation. The team also met with Dr. Eric Hoek, Professor and Faculty Director at UCLA and Co-Founder and Advisor of Pacifica Water Solutions (PWS), as well as Dr. Arian Edalat, Co-Founder & President of PWS.
SWCC also held a meeting with faculty from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Present at the meeting were Dr. Kamal Youcef-Toumi, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT and Mr. Bruce Lawler, Managing Director at MIT Machine Intelligence for Manufacturing and Operations. Additional MIT team members joined via video. The MIT team gave a detailed overview of their research and production methodology of graphene-based water filtration membranes and their experience in applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve problems in and improve the efficiency of desalination operations.
According to the USSBC report on “Saudi Arabia’s Water Sector,” Saudi Arabia remains the largest producer of desalinated water and the third largest per-capita consumer of water globally. The Kingdom recently enacted new legislation easing barriers to market entry and attracting new international companies and investors. Specifically, these recent measures offer significant opportunities to U.S. companies with the expertise, experience, and technologies needed to address the Kingdom’s critical water challenges.
This program represents only one in a series of events the Business Council organizes with Saudi public and private sector partners. In just the past year, the USSBC has played a leading role in facilitating successful, high-level engagements with the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources, General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI), Saudi Export Development Authority (SEDA), Saudi Aramco, Saudi Center for Commercial Arbitration, and Dussur, among others.