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Atif Kubursi was born in Lebanon and has worked in various Arab countries for many years. Therefore he has countless water stories from the region to share. Nowadays, Kubursi is an economics professor at the MacMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

In this series of videos produced by TheWaterChannel, Atif highlights the complexity of water issues in the Arab world. He discusses the food-energy-water nexus, an asymmetry of power and water conflict. He also pays attention to Arab gender relations and economic versus physical scarcity. Click on the tiles below to watch all parts of his interesting and inspiring story.  

Part I: Introduction

Part II: An asymmetry of power and water conflict

Part III: Economic versus physical scarcity and the water-food

Part IV: Gender relations and conclusion




  • Too salty to handle

    Too salty to handleAs oil-rich as the Arab region is, as poor is its fresh water supply. Luckily, the solution is right there along its coastline: desalination. The sea offers an inexhaustible resource to tap into. After the necessary treatment the seawater can contribute to the region’s freshwater supply and take some pressure off conventional water resources. But will desalination be an everla...

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  • How the War in Syria is Drowning the Middle East

    How the war in Syria is drowning the Middle EastThe war in Syria and the recent rise of Islamic State (IS) has forced many Syrians to leave their country. Many of them have found a safe haven in the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon. However, in these refugee camps, as in these countries as a whole, water does not flow richly. As more and more refugees continue to cross the border, this will hav...

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  • No Water, No Caliphate

    The last couple of months the news has been overflowing with horrible and shocking images of Islamic State (IS) warriors driving the local people out of their houses, beheading Western journalists and breaking-down ancient artifacts of the region. Less is spoken about the influence of IS on water in the area they have occupied. How catastrophic is this self-proclaimed caliphate for the availabilit...

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  • Arabic Radio Show: Flood Streams

    An Arabic Radio Show, called 'Flood Streams' talks about different water-related topics aiming to spread awareness, and consists of multiple dialogues discussing the topic of the broadcasted episode, including interviewing youth (to measure their water knowledge), experts and people from the field; introducing the issue in an acting performance; interposing explanations and definitions between the...

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  • The Hidden Costs of Desalination

    The Hidden Costs of Desalination Desalination is often presented as a panacea that would help the water-scarce Persian Gulf states tap into an inexhaustible resource- seawater. Advocates, however, fail to point out the grave danger posed to marine ecology by hot, hypersaline brine—inevitable end products of known desalination processes that are invariably expelled into the sea. This Al Jazeera ...

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  • Yemen: The vulnerability of an irrigation system based on diesel subsidies

    Yemen: the vulnerability of an irrigation system based on diesel subsidiesIn the 1960s, the government in Yemen introduced diesel-powered groundwater pumps, and diesel subsidies to go along. The idea was to boost irrigation, productivity and farmers’ incomes. As a result, between 1970 and 2010:area under groundwater-irrigation increased by 11%;area under cash crops increased from 3% to 14%;produ...

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  • Walling out water in West Bank

    Walling out water in West BankThis is not a new story: separation walls built by Israel restricting Palestinian citizens’ movements, separating communities, limiting their livelihoods options, keeping them from religious and cultural congregations, and severing their access to services. Compiled by researchers investigating the effect of conflict over natural resource management, the video ‘Wa...

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  • Mainstreaming gender equality in the water sector: Issues, Evidence and Developments in the Arab world

    Mainstreaming gender equality in the water sector: Issues, Evidence and Developments in the Arab RegionIn the Arab region, many women represent the largest group of beneficiaries of improved water services and direct users of water, says Atef Hamdey, Emeritus Professor, Water Resource Management (2009). They also safeguard their water resources, and thus do much of the water management. However, t...

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    Water Stories from the Arab Region

    Water Stories from the Arab Region  The topic “Water in the Arab Region” conjures images of an oil-rich, water-stressed part of the world mired in conflict. As an internet search query, it throws up millions of results-- mostly reports, news items and analyses presenting water in the region as a precious substance that is the ‘new oil,’ the probable cause of the next big conflict, a near...

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