Drinking Water in Dubai: A Guide to the City’s Water Options

Dubai’s tap water primarily comes from the sea, specifically the Arabian Gulf. Due to the region’s arid conditions, the available groundwater is insufficient to meet the water needs of the emirate.

To address this, Dubai employs advanced desalination plants that transform seawater into usable water.

This desalinated water is then pumped into the Dubai Aluminum Company Limited (DUBAL), known for its aluminum smelters.

Following this, the water is passed on to the Dubai Electric and Water Authority (DEWA), which is responsible for power generation and the distribution of water, including to homes across Dubai, be it rental apartments or villas.

Is Tap Water in Dubai Safe to Drink?

Dubai’s tap water is safe to drink, as confirmed by DEWA, meeting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) highest health and safety standards. However, maintaining this quality depends significantly on the customer.

Regular maintenance of plumbing systems and water tanks is crucial. This includes:

  1. Ensuring that the plumbing system and water tanks are in good condition.
  2. Regular cleaning and flushing of pipes and water tanks, which should be done by companies approved by the Emirates International Accreditation Centre.
  3. Conducting frequent water tests for drinking water parameters at laboratories accredited by the Emirates International Accreditation Centre.
  4. Confirming that laboratory results indicate that tap water is safe to drink in Dubai.

While the water supplied by DEWA is safe, the responsibility for maintaining this safety standard within homes lies with the residents and maintenance companies. Many residents opt to boil tap water before drinking as an additional safety measure.

Does Tap Water in Dubai Need to Be Filtered Before Use?

In Dubai, while the tap water supplied by DEWA is thoroughly filtered and meets safety standards, it’s advised to use water filters at home.

This recommendation stems from concerns about water storage tanks, which can potentially introduce impurities into the water.

Using a tap water filter in Dubai is a common and recommended safety precaution to purify tap water from any harmful substances that might mix in while stored in tanks.

There are various water filtration services and companies available in Dubai for installing such systems. The cost of fitting a water filter can vary widely, ranging from under AED 100 to several thousand, depending on the system and level of filtration required.

The Quality of Dubai Tap Water

The quality of Dubai tap water has been a subject of debate, with concerns about potential contamination and bacterial growth.

Ultra, a water maintenance company, warns that rubble and rubbish can lead to bacterial reproduction, like Legionella, particularly if water tanks are not regularly cleaned.

Culligan KMA, a prominent water treatment service in the UAE, points out that contaminants often enter through unclean pipes rather than the tanks themselves. To tackle this issue, they use a biodegradable biocide disinfectant that leaves no harmful residues in the pipes.

Culligan KMA and other top facilities management companies in the region offer various services to enhance tap water quality in Dubai.

These services include comprehensive lab reports before and after tank cleaning, sanitization certificates, water sampling for bacterial testing, and cleaning services for water tanks in various establishments.

These efforts aim to boost confidence among residents to drink tap water directly or use a water filter in Dubai.

How Much Does Water Cost in Dubai?

The cost of water in Dubai can vary depending on whether it’s tap water or bottled water.

For tap water, which is provided by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), the price is relatively low and is typically included in the utility bills for residents.

These utility bills can vary based on consumption and property size.

Bottled water, on the other hand, can have a wide range of prices depending on the brand, size, and where it’s purchased.

Supermarkets often offer more competitive pricing compared to convenience stores or hotels.

Prices for a standard 500ml bottle of water can range from as low as 1 AED to several dirhams for premium or imported brands.

For tourists and visitors, it’s also common to purchase bottled water, and the cost can add up over time.

In restaurants and hotels, the price of bottled water can be significantly higher due to service charges and markups.

How to Get Cold Water in Dubai?

The easiest way to get cold water in Dubai is through bottled water. You can find chilled bottled water in supermarkets, convenience stores, and numerous vending machines throughout the city.

Many of these locations have refrigerated sections specifically for keeping water cold, providing a quick and convenient way to stay hydrated in Dubai’s hot climate.

Bottled Water in Dubai

The use of bottled water in Dubai raises several concerns, primarily related to environmental impact and health considerations.

Firstly, a significant majority of bottled waters are essentially filtered tap water, yet they are sold at a price substantially higher than tap water — often 50 times more expensive.

This marked-up pricing does not necessarily reflect a higher-quality product.

Environmental issues associated with bottled water in Dubai are multi-faceted. The production of plastic bottles contributes significantly to environmental degradation.

This includes not only the pollution associated with plastic manufacturing but also the water waste incurred during the filtering and bottling processes. Additionally, the transportation of bottled water adds to its carbon footprint.

Another major concern is the low rates of recycling in Dubai, both among residents and businesses.

This poor recycling culture leads to an increase in plastic waste, exacerbating environmental pollution and contributing to the growing global crisis of plastic pollution in our oceans and landfills.

Moreover, there are health concerns related to bottled water. Studies have found that most bottled water contains microplastics.

While the full impact of microplastics on human health is not yet fully understood, their presence in drinking water is generally considered undesirable and potentially harmful over the long term.

Distilled Water in Dubai

In Dubai, distilled water is readily available and can be purchased from various sources. This type of water is commonly used in laboratories, automotive cooling systems, and in certain medical or industrial processes. It’s also sometimes used by individuals who prefer it for drinking due to its purity, as it has had most of its impurities and minerals removed through distillation.

You can find distilled water in supermarkets, pharmacies, and specialty stores across Dubai. Additionally, many companies that supply bottled water also offer distilled water, and it can be delivered to homes and businesses.

Zamzam Water in Dubai

Zamzam water is typically stored at room temperature. It’s a special kind of water that comes from the Zamzam well located within the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. People often collect and distribute it in containers of various sizes.

Other Concerns About Dubai’s Tap Water

  1. Can we use tap water for cooking in Dubai? Yes, you can use tap water for cooking in Dubai as it meets safety standards but using a filter is advisable for enhanced purity.
  2. Can you brush your teeth with tap water in Dubai? Yes, you can brush your teeth with tap water in Dubai as it is generally considered safe for such use.
  3. Can you drink boiled tap water in Dubai? Boiled tap water in Dubai can be consumed, as boiling further purifies it, making it suitable for drinking.
  4. Does the water in Dubai make your hair fall out? There’s no definitive evidence that water in Dubai directly causes hair fall, but hard water can potentially affect hair health.