Veolia from France, which is rated as the world’s biggest water company, on Wednesday teamed up with King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) to set up research facilities at the high-tech Dhahran Techno-Valley.
KFUPM Rector Dr. Khalid S. Al-Sultan and Veolia Water Saudi Ltd. Managing Director Jean-Paul Camus signed the agreement in the presence of a select group of officials and executives including Dhahran Techno-Valley Vice President Dr. Halim Hamid Redhwi and Veolia Water Saudi Ltd. Business Development Manager Faisal Al-Dawish.
Al-Sultan described the agreement as both crucial and strategic. “Through these research labs and facilities, multinational companies such as Veolia add value to their product and solidify their presence in the countries they operate,” he said.
The KFUPM rector described Veolia as a perfect candidate for Dhahran Techno-Valley. “It is not easy to get into DTV … We have a very strict entry criteria … Since we have the best companies doing their research work at DTV, we don’t want a lesser known company sitting next to a giant …. We can accommodate them at the business park that is coming up soon … But at DTV we are very choosy as to who gets in,” Al-Sultan said.
According to him, Veolia met all of DTV’s stringent entry conditions. “Veolia is a company with an impeccable international profile and a proven track record in its field … More significantly, it is a water company … DTV is mainly into oil, gas and petrochemical research, but it has two more fields that are equally important to the oil industry – water and information technology,” he said. “We are, therefore, very glad with Veolia Water coming into Dhahran Techno-Valley,” said Al-Sultan.
He agreed that the research facilities will help Veolia Water to transfer technology to Saudi Arabia. “No country can or will allow companies to come in and just do business and leave. We all are looking for meaningful technology transfer so that the country benefits in the long run,” he said. “Also, it is important to realize that multinational companies no longer identify themselves with just one country; they think of themselves as the citizens of the world. So when they come to Saudi Arabia they want to look themselves as a Saudi company which is what Veolia is doing.”
Camus said Veolia’s decision to set up its footprint in Dhahran Techno-Valley came after serious and long deliberations. “We are committed to this country. We have earned the trust of the Saudi government and the companies that we are engaged in through hard work and quality work. This engagement with Dhahran Techno-Valley is geared toward transferring our know-how to Saudi Arabia. This is proof of our total commitment to this country,” he said. “Veolia wants to share its expertise in water and wastewater technology with Saudi Arabia.”
He said the signing of the agreement with DTV represented a new step toward strengthening the company’s position in the Kingdom.
Explaining the reasons behind Veolia’s decision to go with Dhahran Techno-Valley, Camus said: “First and foremost, the key attraction is KFUPM which is a very first-class university. It is known for its cutting-edge research and development. We will benefit from the university’s community of researchers. Also, this center is strategically located. Saudi Aramco is here and Jubail Industrial City is just 70 km away. All these were key elements that propelled us to sign up with Dhahran Techno-Valley … It is going to be a win-win partnership.”
Veolia made quite an impact in Saudi Arabia when it won National Water Company’s water and wastewater services contract for Riyadh in 2008. Nearly 40 top experts from Veolia are working in the group’s main office in Riyadh.
Veolia Water designs and builds water treatment works for municipalities and industry. It offers a complete range of technological solutions based on in-house processes and including equipment, modular systems and associated services that meet the water treatment requirements of its municipal and industrial clients.
DTV is a major undertaking that was initiated by KFUPM in 2006. It is envisioned to be Middle East’s most prestigious, industrial research and development and technology nucleus.