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Home Current Saudi News & Analysis Bravo King Abdullah: Better Late than Never
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Bravo King Abdullah: Better Late than Never

“King Abdullah is the ruler. If he wills it, then it will be done.’’ Prince Talal, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/723d88b0-3412-11de-9eea-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1


Director's Comment: It could be climate change, artificial (use of science to make rain) or coincidences, but some regions in Saudi Arabia have been getting unprecedented, albeit sporadic, heavy rainstorms in recent months. On Nov. 25, 2009, the Saudi economic, intellectual and liberal capital, Jeddah (dubbed ‘The City by the Red Sea’) was hit by a few hours of heavy rain. This should have been a welcome event because it hardly rains in Saudi Arabia, one of the most barren areas on earth. Instead, it became a nightmare of disproportionate magnitude for the residents of Jeddah, especially the destitute and marginalized citizens and immigrants. Due to an inexcusable absence of adequate, let alone modern, drainage and sewage systems, the water from the rain inundated dry riverbeds outside Jeddah, mixed with waste material from Jeddah’s sewage dump (known as Musk Lake), and flooded the city with over three feet of water. More than 100 people lost their lives, hundreds more were injured and thousands of homes, businesses, and cars were destroyed and swept away.

The Jeddah flood and subsequent disasters (as in a similar, albeit less destructive rainfall in the poverty stricken Jizan region and recently in Riyadh on May 3, 2010) could have easily been avoided had there been systems of prioritization, accountability and transparency where public funds are accounted for, spent on immediate and relevant projects, and corrupt officials held accountable to the people. Sad to say, but none of these exists. After the Jeddah tragedy, King Abdullah called on the governor of Mecca, his nephew Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, to form a committee to investigate the situation and report his findings to the King so the latter could take proper action against corrupt officals who failed to do their job and squandered public money.


The prince formed a committee composed of officials who should have been the target of the investigation. They reported to the King three months later and nothing came out of it until May 11.


For reasons only those who intimately know the underpinnings of the Saudi system and its ruling elites can understand (speculate), King Abdullah ordered trials of Jeddah officials who betrayed public trust. The King announcement came eight days after the Riyadh May 3rd floods where three people lost their lives. The question is why did it take this long and why only Jeddah officials and not those of Jizan and Riyadh? Read Article


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