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Dr. Rashid Al Leem

UAE, SHARJAH - Energy & Mining

The Right Moves

Chairman, Sharjah Energy and Water Authority (SEWA)


Dr. Rashid Al Leem holds a PhD from the University of Salford, Manchester, UK, and honorary doctorates from the Somalia University for Humanitarian Services and the American University in the US. He has more than 10 years of experience at Sharjah Department of Seaports and Customs and Hamriyah Free Zone Authority. Dr. Al Leem is the founder of Alleem Knowledge Center, a non-profit organization engaged in the development of leadership skills and promotion of the modern management concept.

TBY talks to Dr. Rashid Al Leem, Chairman of Sharjah Energy and Water Authority (SEWA), on the challenges facing the Emirate's plan to reach 30% water re-use by 2020, and changing the attitudes through education.

Can you talk about how you are incorporating sustainability into commercial and residential areas?

Sustainability does not mean that you are compromising on net profit in favor of ethics and principles. There is a misconception that when people talk about sustainability they always look at the cost side of it, ignoring safety, health, and the environment. That is why we have created the SEWA Sustainability Statement, which says that we work with individuals within the organization to bring the true principles of sustainability for greener solutions with no harm to the people or environment. This is accompanied by a lot of awareness programs that follow the theme “catch it from the beginning.” We meet with developers and designers at the start, and explain the target of 30% reduction in water use, then make a deep investigation and do an energy audit on a building, shopping mall, or school before it begins. Saving energy means saving the environment, reducing CO2 emissions, and reducing the bottom line for the developers.

Can you outline the initiatives and road map leading to 2020 for reaching the 30% water reduction target?

Globally the energy sector is experiencing a tough time, which is part of the reason why the UN felt it was the right time to introduce 17 goals for sustainable development in September 2015. The UN was trying to tell everyone in the world that we should work together for the coming 15 years to tackle certain issues and reach certain goals. In the US, authorities in California and Georgia reduced access to water for three to four hours a day to reduce consumption during periods of drought. Similarly, in India, water has been transported with vans, caravans, and trucks from one state to another because of water scarcity. Access to potable water is a real issue and for that reason we did a global study to understand the best practices when it comes to conservation. We found that in Japan they were able to reach 50% water re-use and some places in Europe reached 20-30%. Therefore, we are focusing on reaching a 30% water re-use target until 2020 through certain KPIs and KSIs.

Is this an issue that needs to be approached on a personal or an industrial scale?

Water is a concern for everybody, and we try and instil that from a young age. We visit children at school and teach then how to install a small device that reduces water usage by 50%, so they can go back home and use it within the home. To me engagement is the key because policing alone does not work; you need engagement, especially with children. The main challenge is to strike the balance between commercial and social. This is the key between our social commitment obligation, which is that you need to have electricity, water, and gas 24/7, with no compromises. This is why our Vision 2020 has goals and each goal has system priorities for the vision. The key to the whole SEWA vision is engagement and there is a big difference between knowing something and implementing it. We have very diversified cultures here also with more than 200 different nationalities, so reaching a common language is not an easy thing to do.

Can you provide some information on the Hamriyah plant expansion plans?

It is in the final stage now, and we are in the process of selecting the contractor. The changes we want to implement are key to the continuous optimization process. The Hamriyah plant is built on a simple cycle and when you go for a combined cycle with the same amount of energy you can get more output, extra energy. The way that the heat gets used in the system gives you extra energy, so we are moving from a simple cycle to a combined cycle, which will give an output of nearly 200 MW.



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