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United Arab Emirates

Water management, policies and legislation related to water use in agriculture


There are four main institutions involved in water resources management:

  • The Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) is responsible of protecting and developing ecosystems and developing and sustaining water resources, livestock and agriculture.
  • Abu Dhabi is covered by the Abu Dhabi Administration of Municipalities and Agriculture (ADAMA), which is directly under the Governor of Abu Dhabi. The Directorate of Irrigation and Soils of the former Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) was in charge of promoting irrigated agriculture and for the planning, investigation and management of groundwater resources, the investigation of quality and salinization of soil due to irrigation, the construction of dams for flood control and groundwater recharge, the operation and maintenance of the hydro-meteorological network, the operation of laboratories and designing of the irrigation networks.
  • Local government water departments and authorities especially in the emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Shariqah are independently responsible for the supply of drinking water and all water affairs in their respective emirates.
  • The Federal Environmental Agency has the power to control and regulate water pollution.

Table 8 shows the agencies and their responsibilities in the water sector in the Abu Dhabi Emirate.

Water management

The Directorate of Irrigation and Soils, both through its headquarters in the former Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) and its decentralized centres in the three zones, supported farmers free of charge for the survey and design of modern irrigation systems. Fifty percent of the costs of these systems, which include bubbler, drip and sprinkler irrigation, are subsidized by the government. At present, these systems cover 55, 21 and 75 percent of the total irrigated areas in the Central, Eastern and Northern zones respectively. In the Abu Dhabi emirate however, the percentage is over 90 percent (2003).

The Emirate of Al Sharja has recently decreed the mandatory conversion of its entire irrigated area to modern irrigation. The Directorate of Irrigation and Soils also organized training sessions for its technicians and volunteer farmers on pilot farms (FAO, 2004).


Water used for agriculture is free of charge while water for municipal use, which is mostly desalinated water, is subsidized by the state.


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       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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