Jeddah: Great People Vs. Corrupt Officials!

Posted: January 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

It has been said over and over again that the Saudi people don’t deserve their generous government. It has been said by some American and Western hypocrites that the Saudi people are barbarians and uncivilized while their government always spends a lot of money trying to develop those savages, who are not up to any kind of progress.

Well…Jeddah’s second flood has shown for the second time that Saudis _men, women, and children_ are more civilized and chivalrous than their government.  How and why do I say this?

Let’s take a look at the facts:

What happened in Jeddah on Jan. 26th 20100 (the Second Black Wednesday)?

It simply rained for about four hours! It was the same kind of rain that falls on about hundreds of cities countries around the world.

The only difference is that it rained in one of the richest countries in the world.

What did the government do? What did the Jeddah Municipality do?

Let’s go back a little bit…

In 1980, people of Jeddah were promised to have a sewage system that was claimed to cost about SR 7 million according to this old piece of newspaper!

According to Sabq Electronic Newspaper, solutions and plans were suggested 13 years ago in a meeting that included government officials, but the recommendations were banned from being published or announced! More here

In November 2009, the problem of the floods emerged to the scene again, so what has been done since then?

The Makkah Clock Royal Tower was built and had cost $6.1 billion!

An irrelevant point …right? Ok…there wasn’t any relevant action that was accomplished during that year in relation to Jeddah’s suffering! But I cannot keep myself from wondering; which is more important to the welfare of people; a huge clock or a service that guarantees their safety and convenience?

After the 2009 floods, the government promised people to severely punish the responsible parties for the crisis…and what happened? Eng. Adel Fagih, was assigned as Minister of L abor, after he was relieved of his post as mayor of Jeddah. Wow! What a punishment! A first of its kind indeed!

Ok ok folks …let’s not open the black records of the past…let’s take a look at what the government and the Jeddah Municipality have done this year…

To begin with, and to be fair, the Civil Defense and the Weather Forecast were sending sms to everyone telling them about the weather conditions…it was something like: Beware people..there will be a rain storm, so if something happens to you, we are not responsible….

In fact, the Civil Defense was trying to make up for the mistakes that the Municipality and other responsible parties have made!

Jeddah’s Mayor, Eng. Hani Abu Rass said nothing as he was busy fighting all the time with the Saudi media and bragging about his achievements “to-be”  saying, “I really wish it rains, so everyone could see the difference that I have made!” No thanks, Mr. Mayor …we don’t want to see this kind of “difference”!

During and after the rain on January 26, 2011, the Civil Defense men weren’t everywhere simply because there weren’t enough of them…simply because there wasn’t any kind of coordination between Jeddah Municipality and any other institution that might help during the rain.

No coordination or any sort of organization happened between the Municipality and the Ministry of Education, for instance, or any other government/official organization.

Schools, colleges, and universities sent sms urging their students to attend in order to take their final exams. “It’s only rain, you spoiled brats!”

During and after the flood with all the tragedies that it caused, the Saudi National TV was airing patriotic songs!

No preparation whatsoever was done on the Municipality part! We didn’t see boats or trucks to help people anywhere! And until today Jeddah is still so wet, dirty, and is threatened by epidemic diseases! It is absolutely an environmental disaster…That is if the Mr. Mayor and his men care in the first place!

Meanwhile, Rotana Saudi presenter, Ali AlElyani, who presents a live talk show on current issues, dealt with the crisis with utmost transparency and honesty hosting Saudi thinkers and writers, who spoke up for people’s rights. And what did the Saudi government do? Nothing alarming! Mr. AlElyani has been suspended till the day of writing this article!

No traffic policemen were around to help….not because they didn’t want to , but because they weren’t enough and weren’t fully prepared!

King Abdul Aziz University students were locked in the university and weren’t able to go out…Some died due to electrical shocks …Others stayed for more than 10  to 20 hours in the dark and cold without any food or cell phone connection…Some are still missing till this day! The lucky ones were able to get out of the university and reach their homes after 20 to 30 hours!

My friends at Dar Al-Hekma College were locked as well for more than 20 hours in the college with little food that the Civil Defense brought them. There were pregnant instructors….there were the children of the Dar Al-Hekma Nursery…there were students and instructors who are diabetic….All stayed without any useful help from Jeddah Municipality for more than 20 hours away from their families and homes!

The Civil Defense buses weren’t enough at all…they came to the college, and then after the students and instructors got on board, they asked them to leave the buses immediately because there are emergency cases in IMC (Dr. Waleed Fetaihi’s Hospital). The management team did their best, but of course they couldn’t do what wasn’t their job in the first place!

Some of my friends had to swim home for5 hours…others had to swim for 18 hours along with the floating corpse, wood chunks, glass splinters, and dirt…all in cold water! And the newspapers say there weren’t any death cases except 6!

There are many sad stories to mention here…but let me go to the next question…

The government and Jeddah Municipality had a year and two months, and they didn’t prepare anyone to deal with such a crisis! They haven’t equipped any institute or company with the necessary knowledge and tools to deal with the for-sure coming rain season!

Personally, I do not hold responsible any college, university, or company management teams for not dealing with the situation well! They weren’t trained! In fact, they weren’t asked to deal with such situations! It was all left to their wisdom, intuition, and at-the-spot decision-making skills (which is never enough without proper professional training)!

Now the question is….What did Jeddah’s people do?

To begin with, Jeddah’s people (Saudis and non-Saudis) were more responsible than both the government and the Municipality!

Young Saudi men who had big cars like Jeeps and Hummers were everywhere lending help and taking people to their homes.

People opened their houses for rain “refugees”. They opened their houses for total strangers and offered shelter, food, and a whole night’s sleep!

Twitter and Facebook turned into an operation room or a help active center! Everyone was offering help, posting numbers of those who can help, giving directions of the safest places to take, announcing missing people or locked families. Volunteer groups were immediately formed on Facebook to help afflicted people. All night and until today, people haven’t stopped offering help in every possible way!

Al-Harthy Exhibition Center was open since January 27th to receive donations; food, clothes, first-aid…etc. All was organized and lists of groups needed and stuff required were all posted on Facebook and Twitter.

Pictures from AlHarthy Center by Okaz

It’s like a beehive over there!

Some bloggers chose to document the crisis by creating a special blog that includes all videos and pictures of the flood.

Some young Saudi guys created a blog that includes the names and descriptions of missing people and numbers of their families.

Saudis from outside Jeddah were also there to help by sending donations and by supporting Jeddah on Twitter and Facebook.

The Saudi people gave their government a lesson in humanity, organization, and unity! In two days, Saudis did what the government has failed to do in years! Saudis have shown they are civilized, understanding, and helping…they practically showed they deserve a better government and better officials!

Today, in Al-Harthy Center, I’ve seen young girls and guys…Mutawes and “cool” liberal Jeddah guys all work hand in hand! Everybody was working! There were no side-talks! There were no fights or barbarous primitive acts! Plus…everyone kept a good sense of humor as Saudis always do!

Mind you….all that was mentioned above has not been planned by officials…It was all the planning and arrangements of the people of Jeddah!

Civilization is NOT in tall fancy buildings and costly universities! I don’t care how much the government spent on “stuff”…But what I care about is what this government is doing for “human beings”? What is our government doing to facilitate our lives and enable us to live as human beings? What is our government doing to invest in us and what is it doing for our safety and convenience?

If people of Jeddah have demonstrated all this organization and greatness in a crisis they’ve never learned to deal with, then this means if they are given the basic human rights, they could lead Saudi Arabia to a totally higher level of progress and prosperity! Jeddah’s people these days demonstrated the true Islamic spirit, and Jeddah’s Municipality demonstrated nothing but lack of integrity, professionalism, and injustice!

We live in dirty city full of diseases due to the non-existing sewage system, but that is not our problem! This dirt and horror that we live in because of a few raindrops only shows that our government sucks, not us!

these days everyone in Jeddah is deeply angry because this time NO one has an excuse for letting such a crisis happen!

We are a great community with corrupt officials!  We do not want to harm anyone…We just want to live in a clean and safe a country that respects our humanity …in a country that does not humilate us every rain season!

Is this too much to ask?

Always Together!

Helping the elderly

Childhood Violated!

Different but Together!

War or Rain Remains?

Hurricane or Rain?

Waiting for Godot! 🙂

Keeping their Hijab on even in the mid of the Crisis!

Trying their best

  1. Mai says:

    Mashaa’Allah Maha, Allahumma Baariki.

    This ran me through feelings from anger and disgust to heartbreak and tears. But more than anything, I felt PRIDE at what people have done for each other. It is these things that give me hope again for humanity! As for the authorities, the government, I wonder when, or if, they will ever finally realize that it all the flashy clock towers and big plans don’t mean anything if they are surrounded by garbage, filth, and disease. Priorities are so dreadfully messed up…and at times like this, when it is so far gone, I think that is when we really learn what is important and the reality of things.

    Very eye-opening for me! Jazaaki Allahu khayran.

    • Maha Noor Elahi says:

      Thank you, Mai for your warm feelings…We are all sad and very very angry…Everyone is trying to do their best, but it seems not enough…
      Till this moment there are homeless people and others that are missing!

      Gob help us all…
      Bless you my dear Mai and thanks once again for feeling for us.

  2. This is a fabulous post and hits on the essence of the anger so many feel – as you said, a government that wastes $6.1 BILLION on a fancy clock tower that is all for show (so much for the “modest Muslim” myth) but fails to spend a few million (peanuts by comparison) to keep citizens safe is seriously out of touch. Perhaps backlash from these latest floods – in combination with what’s going on all around us here in the Middle East – will be the wake-up call needed to set Saudi priorities and hearts on human dignity rather than ostentatious show and one-upmanship. Thanks for another really thoughtful post.

    • Maha Noor Elahi says:

      Sand Gets in My Eyes
      Thank you dear for your comment…The officials in my country do not represent Islam at all…they are a mixture of Capitalism (at its worst), Communism, and Feudalism!
      Many Saudis know what they want but the dictatorship system that governs this country is scaring the hell out of everyone! 😦

      Let’s hope this crisis takes us out of the tunnel!

      By the way, I’ve been trying to visit your blog, but it is blocked and I didn’t know how to contact you.

      Thank you

  3. Munther says:

    Very well said Maha. I don’t really have much to say only that we all felt proud to see how the people of Jeddah handled this crisis as much as we are angry and frustrated with the corrupted officials in all over the country.

    Our prayers go to you all
    from Eastern Province

  4. angel says:

    salam alykum ,

    sooon insha allah ill be in saudi in a week , on a work visa ..well instead if criticizing your government why dont you guys give them ideas and why are you a teacher? why not an engineer ? ever one is created with beauty and intelligence and Saudis too are humans its just they want to sit and eat and not work … IF you need a change then the change should begin from every citizen of Saudi not the govt ..govt is form you guys they are not some thing different ,you guys get in and make a beautiful to see the beautiful saudis lending help certainly the govt is not preapared and has traiend perosnnel for such crisis and thank allah there has never been such instance like fire in oil heaven .you are the future of saudi you can make a change . there are few stupid saudis who want to be like people in west then they must leave saudi and live in west .their main issues are “women driving” wearing bikinis etc how stupid /… it there are such people how can one expect saudi to make progress and a saudi to walk shoulder to shoulder with rest of the world . economic growth sustainability living better future for coming citizens of saudi are things important and safety and security of citizens of saudi and the rest working in sauid must be given priority …nice reading nadia she is indeed mashallah good and i feel there are many suhc people and make a difference with out viplating the hudood of shairah..Modernization doesn’t mean going against the shaira

    • Maha Noor Elahi says:

      Dear Angel
      We have been giving ideas and talking for years…Everyone is working in Jeddah except the Municipality!
      And to answer your question: Why am I a teacher not an engineer? Hmmm what kind of question is this? Do we all have to change our jobs into engineers to be good citizens? Is teaching from your point of view of less importance?
      I think you haven’t read the article well…The article states facts more than it criticizes anyone…It states what has the government done and what have the people…

      Till today, Jeddah is full of mud and dirt! How on Earth can ordinary people bring huge tractors to clean it?
      People – till today – are saving each other and looking for missing people – and collecting donations….NOTHING is done by the government except urgent meetings!

      I just returned from my daughter’s school—Schools are closed due to the damages that happened but my daughter’s school opened to collect donations…young girls were working from 9 am till 1 pm…..
      Talk about Saudis’ laziness!
      Come and see for yourself that we stopped talking…we are only working and praying!
      and once again..the government sucks! It is taking our money without providing any human services …
      And I don’t know what kind of violation of Sahria you are talking about! We are talking about death here! The drowning of people is the responsibility of the government and this is the utmost violation of Sahria!

      We are saving people and giving donations…the government is conducting urgent meetings and visits after hundreds of people have died!

      People of Jeddah these days have demonstrated the true spirit of Islam and the government is only hiding the facts and representing nothing but injustice!

      Go to youtube and see the actual disaster that is caused by the greediness and irresponsibility of the officials..that is true violation of everything good in life!

      • angel says:

        The fact of the matter is the best and well planned sewerage systems around the world have failed and i guess saudi has rarely seen such natural disasters ..and is not ready and has no trained personnel or adequate personnel..inshallah people will learn and things are gonna get better …

        I am saying change profession its allah tala who decides the rizq ..i jsut said if you were soo keen on development why arent you some where who makes decisions …lthe one who planned the cities …i geuss which is not possible for females there but any ways

        And i am sure sista noor is a beatiful great wonderful teacher masha allah!!! besides being a good wife and mother..

        well the part of lazyness i just read in some blog that saudis are not ready to work only if perk is high and less work ..and hence most are jobless but i dint say lazy ….

        Internet is a great innovation .. i have met some beauti ful saudis who are very intelligent and smart ..and thought why on earth do people call them camels …lol..
        And these people can decide whats best for saudi and its people .

        If these people are in the system there certainly will be a change that later generations can reap from…and by the way you already are a teacher and no doubt you make children aware of the responsibilities and challenges saudi and its people are facing and whats stopping it from progressing….

        And abut violating shariyah i read few stupid blogs where people are demanding for driving vehicles ..there are more important issues besides dont know why they stress on this…

        Its is sad that people have lost lives and may allah tala make it easy for every jeddahvi and people who are affect by this calamity..and allh tala bless the ones who are extending had to help and indeed their reward is with allah …

        Thanks for the beautiful pics, there is one where the face of beautifl saudis are seen .. never knew what arab females look like

        keep blogging .. I’m Lovin It..

  5. Maha Noor Elahi says:

    I just added some pictures from AlHarthy Center where hundreds of volunteers gathered to collect donations and to send them to afflicted families.

    More to come in the next few days!

  6. Nawaf94 says:

    sorry , goverment is busy giving people money to Moroco & Lebanon

  7. Tarek Mourad says:

    wow!! This takes me back a while. I was in Jeddah in 1980. I do remember that when it rained, we were all in for a treat 😦 . I lived on the coast of Jeddah so the rain did not have much areas to accumulate. But it did accumulate in other parts of town. And it was a mess.

    But to be honest, the pictures of this January 2010 storm look worse than anything I remember.

    Kudos to people that help each other and not wait for governments.

  8. wasta says:

    Thank you for this great article. Just like Angel, I will be in Jeddah too in the coming months, but unlike him, I will support your work and not criticize you for exposing the reality.

    Angel should rather stay in his country as Saudi Arabia can not afford to have another citizen with that kind of thinking. Frankly, I think, he added that info to hide his real identity as a delinquent Saudi official and to find out who you really are. He has now tried to discover your occupation by suggesting that you’re a teacher, narrowing his investigation to your true identity.

    It seems my first task in Saudi will be to fill up sandbags and to get a life-jacket and rubber dingy.

    How easy is it for this country to produce concrete pipes for a sewerage system!!!! They have the sand, cement, labour!

  9. flyingunibrow says:

    The Saudi’s aren’t ‘barbaric’ and ‘uncivilised’. Whatever problems the country has today are largely due to its inept government that has made a reputation for itself by having a lackadaisical attitude towards development and progress. One of the ways a country evolves its thought process is through the system of education- not only in terms of curriculum, but in the type of activities students are involved in, and the environment produced by school and university staff. The best outcome is when the environment is -at some level, at least- secular, objective, open-minded, and scientific. The education sector falls directly under the government. If the ‘Western’ critics feel Saudi’s are lacking in some sensibilities, then those aren’t inherent to Saudi’s, those are deficiencies that the government has helped foster to remain in power. One of the biggest examples of this is letting an extremist group of people hijack religion and politics, and put them on a throne of their own to dictate the lives of all men and women, and brainwash children. If anyone is ‘uncivilised’ and ‘barbaric’ in Saudi Arabia, it is the men from the Commission of PVPV. After 19 years, I’ve never been discriminated on the basis of gender and race as much as I have by these religious police. I’ve lived 19 years in Saudi Arabia, and I admit there are many social issues that need ramification and millions of mindsets to be changed. But I highly doubt I would pass off an entire population as barbaric, especially when you hear of what they can accomplish in the name of humanity. The government has two jobs: 1. Materialistic developmental instead of social development to brainwash people into thinking Saudi Arabia is a developed country. 2. Impressive ‘reforms’ which never take full shape to impress their Western allies, so their bank accounts keep getting pumped with dollars.

  10. flyingunibrow says:

    With all the corruption and nepotism in the country, it’s no wonder that even in times of natural or man-made disasters, the country falls short of being helpful. Apparently, office politics are more important than saving lives and putting into place a disaster management organisation, and improving sewage infrastructure. Everyday I’ve been bombarded with news articles showing the maladroitness and irresponsibility of the Municipality. But without proper regulation of government agencies, lack of transparency and accountability, a country cannot function for long without suffering a backlash.

    My condolences to all those who have suffered such a tragedy- once was more than enough. The government needs to get its act together. Dishing out charity money on surviving victims and bereaved families isn’t going to solve the problem.

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