Manila Water Co. Inc. has clinched another contract with the government of Saudi Arabia to operate water services in several cities through a partnership with France-based Saur Group and local firm Miahona Co.

The company, previously under the Ayala group and is now with the Razon group, has a 30-percent interest in the consortium that won the contract.

The seven-year management, operation and maintenance contract was awarded by the state-run National Water Co., which tapped the consortium for water and environmental treatment services in the area called Eastern Cluster.

This area includes the cities of Dammam, Al Hofuf, Al Jubail, Al Khobar, Al Qatif and Hafar Al Batin. The Eastern Cluster has a population of 5.27 million, which needs about 1,800 million liters of water per day. This win follows Manila Water’s first project in Saudi Arabia, which was announced just last December. The first contract covers the Northwest Cluster, which includes the pilgrimage city of Madinah (Medina) and Tabuk City. Jose Emmanuel de Dios, Manila Water president and chief executive, said in a statement that winning the two deals would put the company and its partners in a strong competitive position if the same management contracts were to be converted into long-term concessions.

De Dios noted the awarding of the contract for the Eastern Cluster was part of Riyadh’s plans to drive the water infrastructure sector toward privatization.

“We are extremely elated with this new international expansion as Manila Water gears up its vision of becoming a global Filipino water company whose operation and management expertise is now being recognized in the industry worldwide,” he said.

De Dios said Manila Water would bring in 24 years of experience and knowhow to a region in Saudi Arabia whose population and water demand are almost comparable to the concession area in eastern Metro Manila and Rizal province—the company’s main business.

“Our operations beyond the East Zone as well as our international operations in the Asia-Pacific region also provide us the leverage to better understand and address the needs of foreign markets in providing solutions through an appropriate public-private partnership framework,” he said.