A local firm in the United Arab Emirates has launched the official website for a project to tow icebergs from Antarctica to resolve the country’s drinking water crisis, The Khaleej Times reported on Sunday.

The UAE-Iceberg project, first announced in May 2017, aims to leverage icebergs as new sources of water in the region. The National Advisor Bureau Limited said the project was on the right path and should be completed by 2020.

An iceberg contains around 20 billion gallons of fresh water. The melting icebergs are expected to release fresh water into the Arabian Sea, helping “restore the ecological balance and reduce salinity of the sea”, the company had said during the launch.

The company has now set up a committee of scientists, experts, and specialists in the nature of Antarctica, icebergs and marine science. They will collaborate with water research centres and universities worldwide. The project will kick-off during the second half of 2019, reported Gulf Business.

The project is likely to cost more than $50 million (approximately Rs 332 crore). The National Advisor Bureau Limited is developing an advanced technology that will reduce the project cost, ensure zero ice melting during the transportation and facilitate water-transfer processes at minimal costs. The details of the technology will be officially announced only during the fourth quarter.

With this project, the firm also hopes to put UAE on the glacial tourism map. If the project is successful, UAE will become the first desert country to offer glacial tourism on its coasts. “...Having icebergs off the coast of Fujairah will become a massive and unique tourist attraction, and will contribute to cool the east coast and transform the UAE desert into thriving green meadows within a decade,” the firm had said during the project launch.