Desalinated seawater is the lifeblood of Saudi Arabia, no more so than at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, an international research center that rose from the dry, empty desert a decade ago. Produced from water from the adjacent Red Sea that is forced through salt-separating membranes, it is piped into the campus’s gleaming lab buildings and the shops, restaurants and cookie-cutter homes of the surrounding planned neighborhoods. It irrigates the palm trees that line the immaculate streets and the grass field at the 5,000-seat sports stadium. Even the community swimming pools are filled with hundreds of thousands of gallons of it. Desalination provides all of the university’s fresh water, nearly five million gallons a day. But that amount is just a tiny fraction of Saudi Arabia’s total production. Beyond the walls and security checkpoints of the university, desalinated water makes up about half […]