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Saur, Zamil to Manage Mecca, Taif Water Networks From January

The Saur Group of France and Al Zamil Group Holding Co. will start next month management of the water network in Mecca and neighboring Taif as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to better utilize its water resources.

National Water Co. awarded in July a $46.3 million contract to the two companies to manage water and wastewater networks in the cities for five years, Louay al-Mussalam, chief executive officer of state-owned NWC, said in response to e-mailed questions today.

France’s Veolia Environnement SA, Acciona SA of Spain and the U.K.’s United Utilities Group Plc and Severn Trent Plc were among companies involved in bids for the project, according to a company statement in May.

The kingdom is privatizing its water industry to conserve resources and ensure consistent supply as population growth spurs demand for water and electricity in the Arab world’s largest economy. Saudi Arabia needs investment of more than $50 billion for desalination projects in the next 10 years, Arab News reported on Dec. 31, 2009.

“We will continue to sustain our efforts to meet increasing demand and build an efficient organization,” al-Mussalam said. “This is the start of massive improvements in Mecca and Taif.”

Mecca, the birthplace of Islam and the third-largest city in the kingdom, receives as many as five million visitors a year, and Taif, the sixth-largest city, gets about 2 million tourists a year, according to the NWC statement in January.

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