The object of this study is to determine the feasibility of utilizing the energy resources available in the coastal region of Saudi Arabia adjacent to the western shore of the Arabian (Persian) Gulf for the development of an agro-industrial complex. The book actually comprises two studies. The first, prepared by an interdisciplinary group of MIT students (as part of a special course in systems engineering), is based on utilizing natural gas to power a number of hypothetical projects, which are then weighted in terms of their economic viability. The second study grew out of an effort by Ali Kettani and his associates at the College of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and is based on a novel means of hydroelectric power generation.
Natural gas is a byproduct of Saudi Arabia's enormous oil production, and currently a large fraction of this gas is being burned off merely to dispose of it. The first study investigates possibilities of tapping this natural energy source for electric power generation, the desalination of water for crop irrigation, the production of liquified natural gas and petrochemicals, the extraction of magnesium from sea water, and the development of aluminum, steel, cement, glass, and fertilizer industries.
In the second study, it is proposed that a dam be constructed across the mouth of the Gulf of Bahrain. The evaporation of water behind this dam would produce, first, a difference of water level making possible the heliohydroelectric generation of power and, second, a concentrated brine from which minerals might be recovered. Aquaculture and land reclamation possibilities are also considered.