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Let’s Talk About Jeddah - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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There are some cities that suddenly become inflicted by strange conditions, in which all decisions and tools unexpectedly become dangerous. The people of Alexandria would remember when a decision was made to allow the pumping of sewage into its sea. This damaged the city’s coast, created dangerous diseases and harmed tourism for many years.

Those in the Jordanian capital Amman would remember the unexplained series of decisions that brought changes to taxes and fees to be paid by retail outlets causing anxiety, dissatisfaction and a decline in production. The ancient city of Calcutta also fell victim to a number of incorrect administrative decisions causing it to become classified as the worst city in Asia.

On the Arab level and particularly with regards to Saudi Arabia, we find that the city of Jeddah has aged drastically. Jeddah is home to the least organized airport and streets that are full of potholes, not to mention unprecedented levels of pollution for example from the desalination plants.

The city of Jeddah is also the scene of a somewhat bizarre story about the administration of the municipality. Jeddah is currently devoid of any sewage system despite billions of Saudi Riyals being spent and oddly, the administrative official remains uncharged.

Jeddah is an ancient city and has been the crossroads of civilizations for many years. Its “official” age is 1402 years-old, since the third Caliph Uthman Ibn Affan declared it as the Islamic State’s official port in 24th year of the Hijri calendar. However, history books claim that the city is much older than this. This city has raised various races, ethnicities and nations in a unique melting pot that has created an atmosphere of tolerance and granted the city a privileged status in the fields of medicine, education, trade and hospitality. Through its development, Jeddah maintained its nickname that it was given by its residents for many years that was “Jeddah Ghair” (Jeddah is different). After the residents and guests of Jeddah suffered due to administrative problems that delayed the projects and ambitions of this important city, people were surprised by the emergence of the so-called Committee for Public Ethics that aims to monitor ethical violations. This committee had confused many visitors, tourists, owners of shops and restaurants and caused many to worry, especially by some of the methods employed by the committee which doubts people and accuses them of ill manners.

The committee has made many decisions “to be implemented without Jeddah’s residents and guests knowing, such as placing barriers between people in meeting spots and banning folkloric activities.” All these terms are vague and will only have a negative impact on people during their vacations or endanger livelihoods. This committee should exercise its determination on those who aim to harm Jeddah’s infrastructure rather than a married couple going out for dinner or bothering a group of youngsters who are out shopping. To think highly of people is what is needed.

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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