Project Ruwais, United Arab Emirates

Ruwais wastewater treatment plant

Wastewater treatment in mid-desert

To produce quality water from domestic waste water and sewage, in a remote desert area with near-zero environmental impact, this was the challenge BESIX faced in Abu Dhabi.

The new water cycle

Since 2015, a wastewater treatment plant has been treating the wastewater of a population of 68,000 in the Ruwais region of western Abu Dhabi. Unusual is the plant's mid-desert location. Wastewater arrives in sewage trucks. Once treated, it is piped 10 km to feed the irrigation systems of the farms near Ruwais, and also the the surrounding forests, vital elements in combating desertification in nearby villages.

Oasis of a new kind

The BESIX-designed plant treats approximately 15,000 m³ of wastewater per day, with the potential to step up to 30,000 m³ daily. Its leading edge technologies, like the bubbling system that uses variable frequency drives to reduce aerosol dispersion, can compete with the best facilities in countries with more clement climates. The result is a minimized environmental impact, greater energy efficiency,  water of exceptional quality, well-controlled operating costs, and odourless facilities. To meet the stringent odour emission standards, the odours are eradicated through a 2-stage biological/ carbon absorption odour treatment plant, thereby eliminating the use of chemicals. All facilities are monitored by adequate instrumentation and a fullyequipped laboratory caters to the necessary water analysis. Once the raw sewage is treated, the clean water is stored on location before it is distributed to the Al Maydour forests where this high quality irrigation water is used to fight back the ever-encroaching desert sands.

'Establishing ourselves in an arid area, 2 1/2 hours drive from Abu Dhabi, meant venturing off the beaten track.

Rashid Ghamraoui
General Manager Middle East, BESIX Sanotec

Building in the desert

BESIX Sanotec managed all aspects of the project - from process design through to commissioning, including civil mechanical and electrical engineering. This assured timely completion of the project within budget and to the satisfaction of Abu Dhabi's Sewerage. This integrated multidisciplinary team proved to be a definite advantage in managing the challenges that came thick and fast. In particular in the logistics, with the plant being built in the middle of the desert, 2 1/2 hours by road from Abu Dhabi, on a site accessible only by 3 km of dirt road. The first task was therefore to erect housing for the site personnel and upgrade the access roads.

Project details

Project name

Ruwais wastewater treatment plant


Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants

Contract type

Design, Build & Maintenance


Ruwais, United Arab Emirates


Six Construct


Abu Dhabi Sewerage Services Company

Building Period

2013 - 2015

Total value

€ 33.1 million

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