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Utico Middle East, GCC?s private utility and solutions provider, and Spanish energy firm Grupo Cobra have announced the first private joint venture in the Middle East to build a US$195.7mn water desalination plant in Ras Al Khaimah

Utico(From left to right) Luis Rein, managing director Infrastructure Concessions, Grupo Cobra; Rashid Al Baloushi, chairman of Utico Middle East; and Richard Menezes, Utico?s managing director, sign the shareholders? agreement in Dubai. (Image source: Utico Middle East)

The JV,  Al Hamra water Company, is 60 per cent owned by Utico Middle East and 40 per cent by Grupo Cobra and will oversee the development of the world?s largest privately financed independent desalination company, according to both the companies.

The facility, around 55,000 sqm, will be located in the Al Hamra Jazeerah area and is touted to be the world?s first-ever green desalination facility. The water will be initially provided to RAK and nearby areas and then expanded to other emirates.

The tender for the project was signed in November 2013 and the facility will be completed in three years? time. Upon completion, the facility will generate 22mn gallons of water per day and have a reservoir capacity of 100mn gallons.

Speaking at the press conference today, Rashid Al Baloushi, chairman of Utico Middle East, said, ?The project comes at the right time when governments are removing subsidies for fuel and services. Utico has been a visionary utilities service provider and has been supported by the government of Ras Al Khaimah and federal water and electricity authority (FEWA) as well as other ministers.?

According to Luis Rein, managing director Infrastructure Concessions, Grupo Cobra, 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.

Richard Menezes, Utico?s managing director, said, ?The facility will be state-of-the-art and will have one of the lowest power consumption in the region. The water re-use saving can save 33,280 tonnes of CO2 per year.?

Miguel Guevara Fernandez, CEO of Grupo Cobra (Water), noted that 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 Algeria to Australia and was confident that the Ras Al Khaimah plant will be one of the most advanced in the world.