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 An association dedicated to the bottled water industry in the GCC region was formed on the sidelines of Gulfood 2020.

The first of its kind in the region, the Gulf Bottled Water Association, GBWA, was formed to bring together a regional working group to address the bottled water sector challenges, and to improve the industry’s economic competitiveness.

Headquartered in Dubai, the new association’s founding members include Tariq Ahmed Al Wahedi, CEO of Agthia Group, Alexander van’t Riet, CEO of Mai Dubai, Hamza Iqbal, CEO of National Food Products Company, and Mohamed Al Owais, Chairman of Emirates Refreshments.

By creating a unified body for communication with various government sectors, GBWA members will work together to address sustainability and environmental issues that affect the bottled water industry and source new methods to improve the standards of quality and purity of bottled water for the consumer.

The association will also engage with industry regulators via conferences, workshops, research and report building, as well as position papers.

The group is set to meet regularly to discuss commercial market risks and build joint awareness campaigns for consumers. The association also aims to bridge the technical cooperation and sharing of information, as well as build operational effectiveness within the industry. Furthermore, GBWA will work to build knowledge and capacity data sharing across water bottle entities in the region.

Commenting on the announcement, Tariq Al Wahedi said, “We are excited to bring a voice to the GCC’s bottled water industry through the launch of Gulf Bottled Water Association. This MoU welcomes any entity, partnership, or corporation engaged in the bottling of water or in the distribution of bottled water, or in supplying related products or services within the GCC”

For his part, Alexander van’t Riet said, “It’s with great pleasure that we announce the formation of GBWA, an instrumental element in the further evolution of the bottled water industry in our region. Over the past year, key stakeholders have taken the time to prepare for this moment, and we look forward to the successful collaboration with our fellow industry colleagues. Together, through this association, we will overcome some of the industry’s most critical challenges and create a platform for progress.”

“Bottled water is at the core of the region’s food and beverage industry, and the creation of an association dedicated to its success is crucial,” said Hamza Iqbal. “This is evident in the calibre of industry leaders taking part in the formation of GBWA, as well as the future members to come. It is our collective responsibility to see the evolution of the bottled water industry and seek improvement in the current topics that are most pressing across the board.”

Mohamed Al Owais expressed his delight at the formation of the GBWA, adding that the association “is set to become a platform for knowledge sharing across the bottled water industry. Coming together as one voice is essential as we continue to work on improving the industry and shaping the impact it has on consumers.”

Among the key topics the association aims to address includes, environment and sustainability, commitment to reduce plastic waste, scarcity of groundwater, high cost of producing drinking water, water use efficiency, health and safety, regulatory frameworks, water and power subsidies, among others.

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