The Depletion of Underground Water in the UAE

A desert covers about 80 percent of the United Arab Emirates land. Therefore, it makes it almost impossible for agricultural activities to take place. Also, rainfall levels are usually low; hence, no perennial surface water exists. The high temperatures in the area also make the moisture to evaporate very quickly, making the land drier (Walker, 2013). However, despite the harsh weather, poor quality soil, and lack of water, there has been notable progress in the agricultural sector in recent years. Underground water in the UAE accounts for the largest percentage of the water used in the region, where a larger portion is used for the irrigation of the agricultural lands (FAO, 2013). The region can only depend on irrigation for farming due to the low rainfall levels. The UAE has made major steps in afforestation and maintaining the public lands, which consume much water.

Other major uses of the water are for the domestic, industrial, and amenities such as hospitals and schools. Due to these activities, the water table level has fallen by almost sixty meters, a situation attributed to the fact that underground water is the main source of water in the area. According to the study by the UAE University, the ground water could be depleted by the year 2030. To conserve water, the UAE has developed a system of treating wastewater. However, due to religious and cultural beliefs, the water that has been treated cannot be used for irrigation; therefore, this worsens the issue of depleting the underground water (Malek, 2015). In essence, the decline of the water levels has become a matter of national importance, while the government is taking measures to reduce its usage, especially in agriculture.



FAO. (2013). FAO Aquastat. Retrieved from

Malek C. (2015,Feb 21). Ground Water at Danger Level in UAE. The National UAE. Retrieved from:

Walker, J. (2010). Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula: [covers Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen & UAE (including Dubai & Abu Dhabi)]. Footscray Lonely Planet.

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