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In Order Not To Throw Away a Historical Opportunity - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The date of 25 November will remain engraved in the minds and memories of the Saudi people for a long time to come. This was the day that King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz initiated a project to fight corruption. This project is one of the by-products of the disastrous Jeddah floods that claimed the lives of more than one hundred people, destroyed homes and cars, and threatened the city’s giant sewage lake (the dams of which may collapse and cause another disaster for the people of Jeddah). The public rejoiced at the statement issued by King Abdullah, and they consider this to be a bold and historic position. They believe this to be an unprecedented step towards putting an end to administrative violations in their cities, specifically by putting an end to the corruption that was revealed in the sewage system in Jeddah, as well as accountability for those officials responsible for this disaster.

Jeddah paid a heavy price for such negligence, disregard, and corruption. Due to its sewage problem, Jeddah is ranked as one of the most polluted cities in the world, and it has witnessed a 40 percent increase of certain types of cancer compared to other areas in Saudi Arabia, as well as increased incidents of inflammatory diseases, hepatitis, and allergies. This is not to mention the destruction of some buildings, and cracks appearing in others due to the contamination of the ground-water. This was all the result of corruption in the execution of the sewage network project. This project was carried out without proper supervision, and implemented without proper checks.

The investigation into corruption in Jeddah has begun, and everybody must cooperate with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, in order to reveal what is hidden and bring to light the problems that the city suffers from that have never been addressed.

There will be no end-solution unless we face this problem without hiding any details or information. There can be no ultimate solution unless the officials responsible for this are held accountable in a just manner, otherwise we will be treating this problem with kid gloves and we would be back to square one with the situation in Jeddah returning to normal, thereby throwing away a historical opportunity to deal with the issue of corruption at a grass-root level.

Dealing with corruption in Jeddah marks the beginning of reform in other sectors and cities, and this is something that in itself represents a huge step forward. Due to Jeddah’s large size, dealing with the corruption in this city would be an amazing achievement, and its residents are hopeful about reforming the sewage network, as well as [finding a solution to] the problem of rainfall [flooding], in addition to renovating Jeddah’s airport and seaport, and moving its desalination plant that pollutes the environment.

Until the investigation of the committee [into the corruption in Jeddah] is completed, with this investigative committee having been decreed by the King, a wise man proposed an interim punishment for the former official in charge of sewage in Jeddah, which is that he be forced to bottle the water of Misk Lake himself as a kind of moral punishment, until we learn the outcome of this investigation that has been long overdue.

The Saudi media, after being successful on a number of occasions, such as dealing with the school fire in Mecca, and its interaction with the war on terrorism, and its defense of the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology [KAUST], has now undertaken a greater mission to reveal and eliminate corruption.

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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