• numéro 2 • septembre 2005
Saq aquifer and its importance in the development of socioeconomic
activities in major provinces in Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia occupies an
area of about 2.2 M km 2 of the Arabian
Peninsula, and sits between two huge bodies
of water, the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.
It faces water scarcity as it is in an arid region
with little rainfall, and lacks lakes, running
rivers, streams, and flowing springs.
The government is recognized for its
efforts in tackling these problems in many
different ways, in particular through invest-
ment in groundwater studies to enable
management of water resources, and to
maintain socioeconomic development.
Groundwater resources need compre-
hensive geological study, and collection of
massive amounts of hydro geological data to
analyse the current situation. This requires
competent experts with expertise in the field
of geology and the geographical area.
In early 1980's, BRGM carried out a very
important study in Saudi Arabia on the SAQ
aquifer.This aquifer is important by its huge
size, 375 000 km 2 . The region also has enor-
mous agricultural activity, and much of
population work in the agro-business sector,
in particular in wheat growing. The govern-
ment encourages this through subsidies and
incentives to farmers, who have conse-
quently invested heavily in agriculture and
There is controversy as to whether or not
this development strategy has seriously
imbalanced water availability in the region.
The new SAQ study initiated by the Ministry
of Water and Electricity was awarded to an
and evaluate the groundwater resources,
and to test the findings, verify the data, and
recommend strategies. Sophisticatedmodel-
ling software and advanced GIS technology
have been underpinned development of a
sound study.This scienceand technology-based
approach combined with the capabilities of
ATC - engineering, procurement, installation,
testing and commissioning, project support
services,and support with prospective clients -
have been key to the success of this study.