17/01/2018 12:44 SAST | Updated 17/01/2018 17:07 SAST

World’s Largest Desalinated Water Reserve Built - In The Desert

A man-made mega-oasis in Abu Dhabi built at great expense so the UAE won't face its own 'Day Zero'.

Oil may take a country from rags to riches, but it still can't quench your thirst in the desert. Unless, of course, it helps pay to construct the world's largest reserve of artificially desalinated water.

At the January 15 launch of the 2018 International Water Summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the city's water authority revealed that it has completed construction of a man-made mega-oasis in response to extreme water scarcity in the region, according to Gulf News.

Costing approximately R5.35-billion (1.6-billion UAE dirham) to build over five years, the reservoir holds 26-billion litres of high-quality drinking water.

The water is pumped from a desalination plant on the city's coast to the "ancient natural aquifers of dunes in [the] Liwa [desert]" south of the city, Razan Al Mubarak, secretary-general of the emirate's environment agency, told Gulf News.

According to CNN Money, the reservoir -- which took 26 months to fill -- could provide one-million people with 180 litres per person every day for three months in an emergency situation.

Still, the reserve only meets a fraction of the country's demand of approximately six-billion litres per day and is only one component of the country's water security strategy, Al Mubarak said.

Meanwhile, back in South Africa, the average Cape Town dam level has dropped below 29 percent, as drought persists and "Day Zero" edges closer for the city.

Last week, according to an EWN report, the city said three desalination plants would be bought online in the first quarter of the year. Construction at the Monwabisi, Strandfontein and V&A Waterfront projects were currently underway, and would be completed by March – albeit with severe funding constraints, the city said.

'Day Zero', meanwhile, was in early January moved forward a week to April 22 amid heavy strain on the city's water supply. According to News24 in early January, the city needed total daily consumption to drop by up to 87 million litres per day to keep Day Zero away.