Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 4911–4920 | Cite as

Importing and Exporting Agricultural Crop Products: An Assessment of Virtual Water Flow (VWF) in Saudi Arabia

  • Shakhawat ChowdhuryEmail author
  • Fayzul Kabir
  • Imran Rahman Chowdhury
  • Maria P. Papadopoulou
Research Article - Civil Engineering


Virtual water (VW) is increasingly used to understand water consumption related to goods and services in a country. This study estimated the virtual water flow (VWF) for the import and export of agricultural crops in Saudi Arabia. In 2012, Saudi Arabia imported 16.5 million ton (MT) of 58 different crop items from more than 70 countries, while the country exported 0.80 MT of 55 different crop items. The overall import and export were 1.6 and 0.08 kg per person per day, respectively. In 2012, the country imported approximately 22,922 million \(\hbox {m}^{3}\) (\(\hbox {Mm}^{3}\)) of VW in the form of crop and crop products, in which the major contributors were barley (44.5%), rice (15.1%) and wheat (13.7%). The country exported 970 \(\hbox {Mm}^{3}\) of VW, associated mainly with dates (30.3%), potatoes (13.6%), sunflower seed (8.6%) and corn (8.2%). The net VWF into the country was 21,952 \(\hbox {Mm}^{3}\), which was equivalent to 776 \(\hbox {m}^{3}\) per person per year. The export of VW was 4.2% of VW import. Through better management of imported animal feed and adjusting the import from source countries, import of subsidized crop and VWF into Saudi Arabia can be reduced, which can lower the expenditure and protect the global water resources.


Virtual water content Agricultural production Virtual water net balance Water footprint Animal feed 


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Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Water Research GroupKing Fahd University of Petroleum and MineralsDhahranSaudi Arabia
  2. 2.School of Rural and Surveying Engineering National Technical University of Athens (NTUA)ZografouGreece

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