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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Crisis-resilient Water Policies: What can the United Arab Emirates take from the Australian model?

Mariam Al-Qubaisi

Crisis-resilient Water Policies: What can the United Arab Emirates take from the Australian model?


Water is arguably the most important resource for life. For this, it is essential to manage and regulate this resource through policies. It is believed that water policies become sidelined and de-prioritised over time, especially as crises unfold. This is believed to have happened in Abu-Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates when a simple conservation measure was abandoned for unannounced reasons which are predicted to have arisen following the Arab Spring. With water-tight conditions, the UAE cannot afford to compromise its water management policies, and therefore the need for resilient policies is necessitated.

Crises may instigate social, economic and/or environmental disorder in a defined region. Such situations threaten the sustenance of regional water policies either through the lack of funds, or a radical change in politics. In addition to being pro-active and mitigative, resilient policies need to be environmentally-friendly, economically sustainable and socially agreeable. This interplay is depicted in the Australian water reform especially through the introduction and regulation of water markets. Australia is acknowledged to have developed exemplar water policies throughout its reforms which helped derive lessons for the UAE. Among many lessons, it is emphasized that the UAE needs to capitalise in stakeholder engagement, a currently overlooked characteristic in its policy-making platform, in order to further the resilience of policies especially in the water sector.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.