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Ideas Pour In After the Rain - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Saudis were keen to follow sports and to read sports analyses before also becoming infatuated the financial market and the stock exchange. Later on, sheikhs and scholars enjoyed their own fair share of the attention of the Saudi people; however it now seems that it’s the turn of weather analysts and weather forecast presenters. Despite that for a long time the weather had been predictable and stable, we now do not know what’s in store for us. In the middle of Saudi Arabia, the “Al Murabaniya” time of year means severe cold for mid-Saudi Arabia whereas residents of western coastal areas know that the “Al Asad” time of year means that your clothes will be sticking to your skin because of high humidity levels, and so on.

But the torrential rain Jeddah suffered six months ago, the heavy and unprecedented rainfall in Tabuk that followed, and the rainfall in the south and in the capital Riyadh this week have shocked and terrified people as a result of the amount of water, wind and dust [that they have witnessed] in such a short period of time, not to mention the cold temperature, which confirms that Saudi Arabia is experiencing climate change. Therefore, the old infrastructure that was designed to deal with the dust, wind and rain is no longer suitable.

If the old specifications that were drawn up for the drainage network seemed appropriate for the estimated levels of rain then the situation now requires reconsideration. This should also apply to the specifications of tunnels and bridges. It is obvious that the substances and raw materials recommended by consultants do not endure heavy rain, cold weather and strong wind. The concept of emergency is supposed to be part of modern city planning; therefore, in the same way that it is no longer acceptable for there to be “inconsistencies” in the statements made by the Civil Defense and the Forecast Authority officials with regards to “the weather forecast” it is also unacceptable that the reports issued by the Traffic Authority and the Ministry of Health on mortality rates contain inconsistencies. This is because it adds to people’s worries whenever an official release is issued. This in itself is an indirect cause of accidents and of more victims as a result. The talk about “climate change” is the beginning of the solution. People must be convinced of the change in the kingdom’s climate as a result of an occurring international change, and we must take into consideration the kind of rain and the amount of rain and the concomitant winds and the cold. There are countries that are vulnerable to the same kind of climate and now they have new standard exceptional specifications that would reduce the harm caused to citizens, vehicles, houses and shops. The specifications of pavements, lighting, glass and ready-made concrete should all change. The “cheap” price policy, which destroyed many of our great projects despite having good intentions, should be abandoned. There must be a distinction between the price and the cost, as celebrating cheap prices will soon come to an end and it will be costly in the long run.

In other words, the “specification policy” should be adopted, rather than just the “price policy”. The rain that is pouring on the country and causes panic and horror represents an opportunity to conduct a comprehensive review and to rectify many of the shortcomings and defects, and to build on what has already been accomplished. This way, what we thought would be harmful would in fact be beneficial.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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