Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Thank You, King Abdullah | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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We say thank you because the royal decree that has been issued [by King Abdullah] to form a committee to investigate what happened in the city of Jeddah represents a victory for the people who were terrorized and who lost their lives as a result of the rainfall. This rainfall should have been an Eid gift to the visitors and people of Jeddah, but everything that happens is according to God’s will. It is heartening that the Saudi monarch did not allow this to be covered up with flimsy excuses under the pretext of not harming the reputation of the country or other [excuses], and instead has taken an honourable decision, as he announced that the state will bear the cost of the property damage, and give one million riyals to the families of the deceased.

The issue is not one of money, but rather the moral stance taken by the state and this is confirmed by the decree issued by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, to form an investigation committee headed by the Governor of Mecca, Prince Khalid al Faisal. This inquiry has a mandate to summon any individual or official regardless of seniority to hear his testimony or question him, and even investigate the relevant government bodies in order to uncover the reasons behind this tragedy.

It is true that negligence, corruption, and failure occurs everywhere, but this is not the issue or the disaster; the disaster is when there is procrastination or a cover-up of the mistakes that result in the disasters that claim the lives of innocent people. This is why the royal decree issued by King Abdullah following the Jeddah catastrophe is so important. The King’s decree is proof that [Saudi Arabia] is aware of its responsibility and is facing the facts. This can be seen in the King’s statement when he said “we are aware that we cannot overlook the fact that there are errors or omissions from certain parties, and we have sufficient courage to disclose this and deal with it firmly, for these citizens and residents are our responsibility and [under our] protection, we say this in faithfulness to God before anything else, and we resolve [to undertake] our judicial and formal duty, and bear the consequences.”

The King’s decree is just and fair, and deserves our gratitude and praise. In the royal statement the King says, “I have followed up with profound pain the disastrous incidents that took place as a result of rainfall on the Jeddah province leading to fatalities exceeding one hundred and the injury of many people, in addition to sizable and numerous damages of public and private properties.” The statement goes on to say: “It is painful to notice that this disaster was not a result of extraordinary or disastrous rainfall accompanied by hurricanes or uncontrollable flooding, regrettably this was a result of rainfall [levels] that cannot be described as catastrophic. It is regrettable that similar levels of rain fall almost daily on many advanced countries and others, some of these countries are less advanced than our own in terms of facilities and capabilities and do not result in the same level of human losses or material damage that we have seen in the Jeddah province.”

We, and others, have called for accountability and fairness, and we say that this [royal] statement is just and healing, and so we must say thank you, King Abdullah.