About the Challenge

1. Challenge Background:

As modern methods for desalination become more efficient, cost effective, and commonly utilised, there is an increasing demand to find alternative solutions for the brine discharge created because of the desalination process, which can cause negative effects on the environment if not disposed of properly.

Zero liquid discharge (ZLD) technologies are of considerable interest because they are an environmentally acceptable means for disposal of brine discharge at many desalination sites, particularly those located in inland areas. Traditional brine evaporation steps tend to be very energy intensive and are associated with large carbon footprints.

Currently there are no viable solutions to brine discharge and some commercial solutions are either not feasible or not tested. Discharging into an area that is unaffected by the saline water is one option. Another is finding an offsetting economic value for the dry residue such as using the brine discharge to create construction material. According to the annual economic report 2018, the construction and building activities in the UAE contributed to 8.7 % of the GDP in 2017. The UAE is a fast-growing country taking major tech leaps into the future and this challenge will aim to provide a viable input to the construction sector while protecting the environment.

2. Challenge Objective:

The primary objective of this challenge is to develop technologies that produce commercially viable construction material at scale from brine discharge.

Update: As part of the partners’ continued commitment to the research community and support for the fight against COVID-19, we have expanded the challenge objective to include the development of medical products, such as disinfectants, which can help in combating COVID-19 and other pandemics.

ReThink Brine Challenge
AED 3.4 Million

Prize Purse

The ReThink Brine challenge is an AED 3.4 million competition that will take place over Three years.

-  Milestone Prize 1: up to 5 teams will be selected and each winning team will receive AED 25 K

-  Milestone Prize 2: up to 3 teams will be selected and each winning team will receive AED 250 K

-  Grand Prize: one winning team will receive AED 2.5 million


Globally there are 15 906 desalination plants and over 2 240 of these desalination plants are in the Arabian Peninsula. But the process of desalination produces a by-product of concentrated salt-water called Brine and about 486 of the plants in the gulf region account for over 14 million m3/day of brine and chemical by-products being discharge into the Arabian Gulf. If not disposed of properly, brine can negatively affect our environment and marine life. This competition will help find alternatives to brine discharge by developing commercially viable construction material from brine.

Protecting marine life
Eco-friendly construction & real estate sector
Supporting UAE Water Security Strategy 2036

“The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi is delighted to partner with Sandooq Al Watan for the ReThink Brine Challenge. Brine discharge has become a significant global environmental problem that poses major risks to ocean life and marine ecosystems and it requires a collective effort to tackle this issue in Abu Dhabi.”


H.E. Dr. Shaikha Al Dhaheri Acting Secretary General of EAD

“Core to our mission is identifying topics that matter to our community and working with partners to solve those problems impacting our environment. If brine discharge can be turned into construction material, this will further Aldar’s goals of reducing its impact on our planet and supporting R&D efforts into sustainable building methods.”

H.E. Talal Al Dhiyebi Chief Executive Officer, Aldar Properties

How to win

The Grand Prize of AED 2.5 million will be awarded to the team that develops commercially viable construction material or medical product from brine discharge ...

Know More


Detailed competition information and documents can be found in the guidelines section. The guidelines are designed to provide prize specific information surrounding the grand challenge, the solution to be developed, and the competition timeline.

View the Guidelines


22nd Mar 2020

Prize Start Date

11th Oct 2020

Team Registration Deadline

08th Nov 2020

End of Round 1: Shortlisted Teams Announced

21st Feb 2021

Detailed Proposal Submission

01st Apr 2021

End of Round 2: Shortlisted Teams Announced

01st Sep 2021

Prototype Submission

03rd Oct 2021

End of Round 3: Shortlisted Teams Announced

16th Apr 2023

Proof of Concept

31st May 2023

Prize End Date: Winner Announced & Grand Prize Awarded