Water tanks fill with water as Saudi-led military continues to rebuild the country’s dams
Posted On July 28, 2021
By Tom HaberstrohWater tanks fill up with water in the Saudi-backed campaign to rebuild dams across the country.
Saudi Arabia has been building water tankers since the start of the civil war, but the Saudi army is now taking over, with the army controlling a third of the countrys major reservoirs and pumping more than 20 million cubic meters (bcm) of water per day.
In a new video, a Saudi military commander in the desert, speaking in a military-run language, tells the camera, “We’re doing it because the dam that was constructed to keep the desert dry has become dry.”
He then uses a giant map of Saudi Arabia, where the country is now rebuilding its dams.
He also explains the operation is being overseen by the crown prince and his generals.
But many residents in the country are skeptical.
“This is a project that will destroy the economy of this country,” said Abdullah Al-Amin, a 40-year-old engineer who lives near the capital, Riyadh.
He says he supports the Saudi war effort but that it’s not enough.
“We need more, and we need to stop the destruction of the economy,” Al-Asim said.
“The only way to do that is to stop this dam.”
Saudi Arabia’s new dams are not the first to be under attack.
In 2016, an estimated 30 million cubic yards (bct) of sediment was deposited in the Marwan al-Sheikh reservoir in the kingdom’s Eastern Province, which serves as a buffer between the desert and the Red Sea.
The Saudi military began building its new dams after the kingdom was hit by a massive drought, and they have already caused extensive damage.
“We are building dams in places where the rivers are drying up,” said Adel al-Khatib, a senior research fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center.
“I have been to areas where dams have been built without adequate monitoring.”
More than 100 dams have already been destroyed in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region since the war began, with another 80 damaged in the past few months.
“The new dam projects are an attempt to rebuild our economy, which has been devastated,” said Mohammed al-Habib, who heads the Gulf Development Bank.
“If we do not stop these projects, the economy will continue to suffer.”
While the Saudi military is now in charge of the construction of dams, the kingdom has also been working to rebuild its own dams.
A number of dams in the southern part of the kingdom, including the Marwa Dam, were built in a bid to protect water supply in the area.
Saudi Arabian military officials say the dam project will provide the kingdom with a new source of water for the next few years, as well as create jobs for local laborers.
But many in the region say that is unlikely to happen without substantial international aid.