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China builds reach by backing Middle East water projects

In its latest financial deal, China has agreed to provide a new credit facility to expand Saudi Arabia's water generation and power portfolio.
People watch a water curtain fountain at the Boulevard entertainment city in Riyadh on August 29, 2023. (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / AFP) (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)
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China is looking to take on a bigger role in bringing water-related solutions to the Middle East. Among its latest deals is a three-year revolving credit facility agreement signed at the end of June between Saudi utility company ACWA Power and the China Construction Bank. 

The agreement will allow the company to access a $100 million credit facility that will support initiatives to expand its water generation and power portfolio. Chinese banks and financiers have contributed a total of $10 billion to ACWA since 2009.

This isn’t the first time that Chinese banks or the Chinese state has gotten involved with water projects in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East. In 2021, for example, Power China signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract to build a desalination project that when completed, will help meet growing water demands in Riyadh. Power China has pursued similar projects in Oman and Abu Dhabi.

Beijing's increasing role in water politics

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