Is the tap water in Dubai safe to drink? What are the common contaminants? Is bottled water really healthier than tap water? What is the best water filter for Dubai?
Continue reading for everything you need to know about tap water, bottled water and water filters in Dubai and the UAE.
In the last four decades the desert city of Dubai, the busiest business hub in the UAE, has turned into a place which can beat any foreign city in terms of its living standards. It has a vibrant and cosmopolitan environment which is supported by an advanced, substantial infrastructure . There’s economic and political stability, a highly advanced healthcare system, a uniformly high standard of education, an impressive transport system, cultural activities and a large expatriate community.
So, does the drinking water in Dubai meet the same standard of excellence as that of other developed cities in the world? Is it safe to drink tap water in Dubai? Is Dubai tap water a health risk? Does the city of Dubai provide safe drinkable tap water for its residents? Where does the water come from in a desert city like Dubai? Do you need a water filter in Dubai?
Where does the tap water in Dubai and UAE come from?
There are two sources for water in the UAE: Ground water and desalinated sea water. The ground water levels are not enough and only serves a little more than 1% of its need.
Close to 99% of potable drinking water in Dubai now comes from its desalination plants. The desalination plants process sea water to make them usable. Sea water from the Arabian Gulf is pumped into DUBAL, Dubai Aluminum factory to cool the Aluminum smelters. It is then brought into the adjacent DEWA, Dubai Electric and Water Authority plants for power generation as well as desalination. The desalinated water then flows into the pipes for water consumption. With Dubai’s ground made of sand it’s highly improbable for the water to be contaminated from the ground. The only likely common source contaminants are leeching pipes and water tanks.
So can I drink tap water in Dubai?
The simple answer is yes. But as far as Dubai’s large numbers of expat population is concerned they don’t agree on the topic of safety of Dubai’s tap water. Some are highly suspicious of the running tap water. “I would never drink any of the water which comes out of the taps. At best I use it for washing and cleaning”, others would say. Many also say that, they would prefer to boil the tap water before they drink it. Only a few are ready to drink directly from the tap so it’s not common practice in the UAE.
Read more about water filters below.
Quality of local tap water in Dubai
The quality of Dubai tap water has always been a topic of contention.
According to the water maintenance company Ultra, rubble, rubbish and other sources of contamination could reproduce bacteria such as Legionella. Especially if tanks are left for a long period of time without being cleaned.
According to Culligan KMA, UAE ‘s major water treatment service provider for the last 20 years, contaminants get in through unclean pipes rather than the tank. To deal with this problem they use a fully biodegradable biocide disinfectant. This ensures that there are no harmful residues left behind in the pipes.
Culligan KMA , along with some top facilities management companies in the region are offering a range of testing and consulting services to improve the quality of tap water in Dubai. These include a full laboratory report before and after cleaning a tank, a certificate of sanitization, sampling water to test for different kinds of bacteria. They also provide a range of cleaning services for water tanks in villas, apartments, hotels and public places. The purpose is to encourage more residents to drink tap water straight or with a water filter in Dubai.
The myths surrounding Dubai Tap Water
So many myths surround the tap water of Dubai — Hair loss, dry skin, premature ageing. Mike Ryan, popularly known as the “Dubai Hair Doctor”, has been researching on the harmful effects of Dubai’s Tap Water collaborating with DEWA. He has found no conclusive evidence regarding the ill effects of Dubai tap water on its residents.
Many reasons could be cited for causing hair loss, dry skin and premature ageing – such as vitamin B deficiency, stress, the food, arid weather– but the water in the taps is not one of them. One value that all these myths have provided is a booming market of anti-hair loss water filters in Dubai.
It is true however that chlorine can cause dry skin and hair. A high quality shower filter can solve this. TAPP Water offers ShowerPro as a solution. It’s the only independently certified shower filter. TAPP Water filters are now available from NIA in Dubai.
Does the tap water in Dubai taste bad?
Tatiana Antonelli Abella is the founder of Goumbook, an environmental organization that recently launched the “Drop It” campaign against plastic water bottles. According to her the main reason people prefer bottled water over tap water is because of its taste. To overcome this problem, she suggests that people should use filters on their taps to get rid of any unpleasant taste.
The reason or the poor taste is primarily chlorine combined with desalinated water. Most cities/regions with desalinated water face the same issue.
The quality of tap water in Dubai and bottled water are almost the same. It’s the taste and not the health benefits that make them stand apart. The type and quantity of minerals and salts that water companies add to bottled water gives the water a distinguished taste. The convenience and accessibility of bottled has kept people attached to drinking bottled water.
Anyone that uses a TAPP water filter in Dubai can confirm that the taste is just as good as bottled water.
Usage of Water Filters in Dubai
Water filters are popular in Dubai.
The most common are Reverse Osmosis (RO filters) with some combined with UV filters. They are used both at domestic level as well as commercial level for offices, restaurants and hotels. Unfortunately many studies have shown that RO filters may do more harm than good due to bacteria growth inside the filters. In addition to this they are water wasting, remove all the minerals and make the water taste flat.
The best alternatives is an affordable water filter such as TAPP that uses the latest microfiltration carbon block technology for pure great tasting water.
TAPP is available to buy in Dubai from NIA.
Weather conditions affect the popularity of Tap water
Another main reason people are hesitant about drinking tap water is its temperature. Dubai being a desert country the weather is extremely hot throughout the year. This makes the water flowing through the pipes close to room temperature. In order to drink the tap water, it’s preferably cooled in the fridge or served with ice cubes added. But with a faucet water filter this is really a small effort.
What about bottled water in Dubai?
Bottled water is easily accessible everywhere in Dubai. Many people don’t want to make the effort of pouring and cooling tap water rather than just buying readily available bottled water. What they don’t realise is that 9 out of 10 bottled waters are simply filtered tap water. For this we pay 50 times more than tap water.
There are a lot of issues with bottled water in Dubai including environmental impact of producing plastic, water waste when filtering and bottling, transportation and plastic waste. Residents and businesses in Dubai are particularly bad at recycling. In addition to this most bottled water have been found to contain microplastics which is most probably not good for human consumption.
In conclusion bottled water should be avoided if possible. Tap or filtered tap water is a cheaper and healthier alternative.
So, at the end of the day, despite all the myths and personal opinions of individuals and despite the popularity of bottled waters it can be said that
- Dubai tap water and UAE tap water in general is safe to drink
- If you don’t like the taste or are worried about contaminants from pipes or tanks then get an affordable water filter in Dubai such as TAPP. More information about where to buy in the UAE.
- Drinking tap water will save money and the effort of buying and disposing the bottles
- There is no evidence that bottled water is safer than tap water. Actually it’s probably the opposite considering stringent tap water quality controls and microplastics found in most bottled water.
Sources used for the article on Dubai Tap Water
Message from the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Authorization:
The Emirates Authority for Standardization and Authorization defines tap water in UAE be safe for human consumption as long as it complies with the UAE.S GSO 149 code. DEWA-Dubai Electricity and Water Authorities makes sure that the water is completely safe. The water is completely safe for human consumption when sent but it is the responsibility of users to keep individual reservoirs and tanks clean and sanitized from time to time to maintain a certain level of safety and stay unpolluted. Water storage tanks are also regularly inspected and assessed. DEWA makes it a point to see that all publicly used tanks follow the health and safety standards as far as storage and distribution of water is concerned.
Other links and sources:
Links for some recent water quality reports :