UAE leaders kick off MBZ water scarcity initiative with $119 million XPRIZE competition

Among the project's board members are Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed, Mubadala's Khaldoon Al Mubarak and Bridgewater's Ray Dalio

Instagram/Emirates News Agency

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed introduces water initiative at Abu Dhabi's Naqa Bin Ateej reservoir.

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed and Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed introduced the country’s new international water initiative and launched the $119 million XPRIZE competition to spur development of desalination technology.

In an event that took place on Thursday night at the site of Abu Dhabi’s historic Naqa Bin Ateej reservoir, Sheikh Abdullah outlined the Mohamed bin Zayed Water Initiative, which he chairs, saying it will seek to stimulate international investment in innovative ways to address the drying up of water resources.

“The solutions that currently exist to address the water scarcity crisis are not sufficient to prevent a range of unacceptable scenarios from occurring,” he said. The UAE initiative “is committed to collaborating with stakeholders from around the world to uncover these new ideas, to prove their viability, and to bring them to fruition as efficiently as possible.”

Among the initiative’s board members are Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Chairman of the UAE Executive Affairs Authority and Group CEO of Mubadala Investment Co., and hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates. Also, UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure Mohamed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Investment Mohamed Hassan Al Suwaidi and Minister of Climate Change and the Environment Amna bint Abdullah Al Dahak Al Shamsi, according to a press release.

The Culver City, Calif.-based XPRIZE Foundation sponsors competitions around the world to encourage “radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity” in technological development. The $119 million prize pool for the five-year desalination project is the foundation’s biggest to date.

“XPRIZE Water Scarcity is a global call to scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to convert water scarcity into water abundance by using converging exponential technologies to address this critical global need,” said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, XPRIZE’S Founder and Executive Chairman of the foundation. He said the competion is focused on “creating new desalination solutions to unlock Earth’s ocean water to clean water for all, in an equitable and sustainable fashion.”

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