Israel signed a first-of-its-kind agreement with the United Arab Emirates on June 1st to launch a joint Israeli-Emirati Water Research Institute in an effort to bring clean water to the UAE and other regions.
The institute is a product of a strategic commercial collaboration between Watergen, an Israeli water technology company, and Baynunah, a sister company of Al Dahra Group, an Abu Dhabi-based agriculture group specializing in food security. The joint institute will also be working closely with the Moshe Mirilashvili Institute for Applied Water Studies at Tel Aviv University (TAU).
The joint venture commercializes Watergen products in the United Arab Emirates, the Gulf States, and Africa. The companies have already been collaborating with the Abu Dhabi municipality, leading to dozens of Watergen devices being deployed around the city for the benefit of its residents, forming the initial stage of one of this joint venture missions, namely to deploy thousands of Watergen devices all across the city of Abu Dhabi for the benefit of the residents. This has formed the initial stage of of one of the missions of this joint venture to deploy thousands of Watergen devices all across the UAE.
The two companies have also laid the cornerstone for a Watergen production facility in the UAE, a statement from the university said.
At the signing ceremony, Watergen’s President and CEO Dr. Michael Mirilashvili emphasized the importance of the agreement, highlighting its role in “building peace and a common future around a groundbreaking Israeli technology that will provide a plug-and-play solution which allows all residents of the UAE and the world an unlimited access to off-grid, top-quality, and pure drinking water.”
“The Abraham Accords has given countries in the Middle East the opportunity to improve and advance relations in various fields,” he said. “Thanks to the agreements, we – an Israeli company – are able to cooperate with our Middle East neighbors to solve one the region’s difficult problems – water scarcity.
In November, UAE news agency WAM reported that Watergen and Al Dahra Holding Company had first signed a strategic agreement to partner in the area of water security. At the time, the agreement was signed by Khadim Al Darei, vice-chairman and co-founder of Al Dahra Holding Company, and Michael Mirilashvili, CEO and president of Watergen.
The two companies decided on the agreement after a delegation from Al Dahra visited Israel in October 2020, following the UAE-Israeli normalization pact signed in August to encourage cooperation and strategic partnerships between the two countries.
The US-brokered UAE-Israel normalization pact formally ended the UAE’s economic boycott of Israel, in place since 1972, after UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also the ruler of Abu Dhabi, signed an official decree. It paves the way for Israeli and Emirati companies and organizations to build ties in business, finance, tourism, tech, and academia more openly. Quiet ties between the UAE and Israel have been in place for several decades.
WAM called the pact “a roadmap toward launching joint cooperation, leading to bilateral relations by stimulating economic growth and promoting technological innovation.”
Al Darei said that Al Dahra’s delegation met with representatives of Israeli companies operating in fields like agriculture, water, and technology.Watergen’s technology will enable many sectors to benefit from a renewable water source and create promising economic solutions for providing eco-friendly water.
The Watergen-Al Dahra collaboration will take place over the course of five years. It will be developed and adjusted to accommodate the UAE desert environment.
“Amidst the concern for environmental issues around the world, especially in the UAE, environmental indexes are now being prioritized by developed countries. Therefore, Al Dahra aims to find sustainable and comprehensive environmental solutions that will protect the environment and support sustainable development programs in the UAE,” Al Darei said.
Founded in 2009, Watergen has developed an innovative patented technology that produces high-quality drinking water from the air. Watergen’s “GENius” tech extracts water from air through its energy-efficient heat exchange module, which generates fresh water from condensation.
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Watergen’s devices use a standard connection to electricity or other alternative energy sources such as solar panels and produce up to 6,000 liters of top-quality pure drinking water per day. The tech also facilitates significant water production in climates with humidity as low as 20 percent.
Watergen’s tech is currently deployed in more than 80 countries globally, covering areas ranging from remote villages to hospitals, city centers, public parks, schools, office buildings and disaster-struck areas.
Under the agreement, TAU will also engage in important academic endeavors with the UAE’s Khalifa University.
“This collaboration was established in order to exchange students and faculty members to conduct and publish joint research together. We hope to produce technologies that help improve the water quality in the Middle East region, which is an area that suffers from chronic water scarcity,” Professor Dror Avisar, head of TAU’s Moshe Mirilashvili Institute for Applied Water Studies, tells NoCamels.
The Mirilashvili Institute promotes water research to support the development of innovative water treatment technologies, including studies that examine the production of high-quality water supply by using technology to break down persistent toxic compounds in water, according to Professor Avisar.
The Mirilashvili Institute, which is named for the father of Michael Mirilashvili, the founder of Watergen, promotes water research to support the development of innovative water treatment technologies, according to Professor Avisar. This includes studies that examine the production of high-quality water supply by using technology to break down persistent toxic compounds in water, he said.
The Institute also aims to expand international cooperation with water authorities globally. It has previously conducted joint international research projects in Mexico, India, and Africa.
The main challenge in this particular partnership, according to Professor Avisar, is to build a stable bridge of trust between the scholars.
“The first thing is to ‘break the ice’ and to familiarize ourselves with the collaborators. Currently, we have made several trips to the UAE and we are in many Zoom meetings to start laying the foundation for this cooperative.” he adds.
Professor Avisar envisions frequent trips to the UAE in the future to discuss the research agenda and details of exchange programs for 2022.
“We hope our joint effort will spread an important message to the rest of the world that we are building the ‘New Middle East,’ which will be based on trust, peace, love, education, collaboration, achievement, and excellence. We will use our collaborative and creative minds to improve the lives of many people in this unique region,” he says.
“Tel Aviv University has a strong commitment to excellence in research and to extensive international collaboration. Research at the joint water institute will build on our special academic strengths, and will open a path for collaboration with the U.A.E. in other mutual areas of research, as well as to student and faculty exchange programs,” said Prof. Milette Shamir, Vice President of Tel Aviv University.