Since the world's first land-based desalination plant was established in Australia in 1903, brackish groundwater and seawater desalination became a common water supply technology in many countries around the world. Desalination has proven as a reliable technology in times of drought and/or water scarcity, while in some countries it is an indispensable water supply source on a regular basis. This paper compares and evaluates major desalination leaders in the world (USA, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Australia, and China) with the aim of pointing out similarities and differences that made each of them successful. It also depicts a comprehensive picture of developments, trends and experiences in desalination at the global scale. Establishing desalination plants and ensuring their successful operation is a complex and multifaceted process dependent on capital and operational costs, production capacity, water salinity, geographical location, socio-economic and environmental conditions, and many other factors. The country specific comparison presented in this paper emphasizes the importance of regional planning for successful and sustainable desalination processes in the long term.