Utico Middle East and Spanish energy company Grupo Cobra have announced a joint venture to construct a AED 719 million water desalination plant in Ras Al Khaimah.
The joint venture, to be called Al Hamra Water Company, will oversee the development of the world’s largest privately financed independent desalination company. The facility will be located in the Al Hamra Jazeerah area of Ras Al Khaimah and will be the world’s most environment-friendly desalination plant .
A shareholders’ agreement to this effect was signed by senior officials of Utico Middle East and Grupo Cobra. Once completed in 2017, the Al Hamra Water Company will generate 22 million gallons of water per day to serve the needs of Ras Al Khaimah and surrounding regions.
The project will create 300 jobs during the construction phase and 80 permanent positions once operational. About 20 to 25% of these jobs will be offered to Emirati nationals after training them for a year.
Speaking at a press conference in Dubai, Mr. Rashid Al Baloushi, Chairman of Utico, said, “The project is a path-breaking development and comes at the right time especially when governments are removing subsidies for fuel and services. Utico has been a visionary utilities service provider that grew with opportunity and support from the Government of Ras Al Khaimah and Federal Electricity and Water Authority as well as Federal Ministries and Authorities. Our unique model of utilities development, combined with a pro-consumer, environment-friendly approach, has been widely recognised by governments and other utilities providers in the region.”
This will be one of the largest foreign direct investments in the UAE in recent times and certainly the largest in an infrastructure project of its kind. The tender for the project was announced in November 2013. The legal advisors for the project are Latham & Watkins while the financial advisors are KPMG.
Mr. Richard Menezes, Utico’s Managing Director, also said that the facility will be a state-of-the-art facility, being the most technologically advanced, and having one of the lowest power consumption levels in the region, as well as water re-use saving at least 33,280 tons of CO2 per year. These factors will help the facility to reduce impact on climate change as well as provide quality water to all consumers.
Established in 1944, Grupo Cobra is part of the ACS Group, a 59 billion Euro annual turnover company, and develops, builds and operates industrial infrastructures. The company has over 30,000 companies located in 45 countries. Other important companies in the ACS Group include Hochtief (Europe’s largest construction company), Leighton (Australia’s biggest construction company) and Dragados, a leading international contractor that specializes in major infrastructure projects construction companies.
Mr. Miguel Guevara Fernandez, CEO of Grupo Cobra (Water), said that the group’s investment is a vote of confidence in the UAE’s growth and in the project. He added that the company has built several state-of-the-art facilities from Algeriato Australia and was confident that the Ras Al Khaimah plant will be one of the most advanced in the world.
Mr. Luis Rein, Managing Director Infrastructure Concessions, Grupo Cobra, said that the new facility was part of a strategy to increase the group’s footprint in the Middle East. “Over the past few years, the Middle East’s infrastructure industry, including the desalination market, is witnessing increasing activity and we are keen to expand our profile here. I am confident that our partnership with Utico will help in maintaining our leadership profile in the world and in this important market,” he added.