Abstract The paper discusses the concept of floating desalination plant and compares the application of such plants with conventional land based installations. The first fully seagoing desalination vessel, named RUMAITH, is now in service with the Water and Electricity Department in Abu Dhabi. This vessel carries two 1250 m3/day MSF distillers and is complete with power generating plant and full marine and navigation facilities. The vessel design, construction and operation are described, together with the onshore facilities being installed at several coastal sites in Abu Dhabi. Floating plants can be operated as fully mobile standby and reserve capacity to reinforce land based plant. This has attractions in areas where development is rapid and other water resources are scarce. The economics of floating versus land based plant are discussed for this type of application and also as an alternative to land based plant.

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