Royal Reaction

While the sky keeps raining dogs on Jeddah, we finally have an official reaction to the disaster. On Monday, King Abdullah ordered the setting up of a high-level committee that will study the extent of the damage due to the calamity. It will also study the causes of the crisis and recommend ways to make ensure that it does not happen again.

The royal decree was particularly interesting because it featured a strong language that is rather unusual for government communications. Many officials in Jeddah, including Makkah Governor Prince Khaled al-Faisal, stressed in their statements that this was a natural disaster and there was not much they could have done about it. However, the royal decree made it clear that the devastation has more to do with the performance of the government than the amount of the rains.

“It is painful that many countries, some with even less potential than the Kingdom, experience similar rainfall almost every day, but there are no devastation of the magnitude we witnessed in Jeddah,” said the decree. “We cannot ignore the fact that there were mistakes and failures on the part of some departments and it is our duty to identify those responsible and take action against them.”

By Saudi standards, this is not normal. Some people even think the whole point of the royal decree and the investigation is to defuse the public anger over the catastrophe. But the firm language of the decree makes me believe that it is going to be different this time.

I certainly hope that this committee will hit hard on the widespread corruption that led to this disaster. Money alone is not enough to compensate the families of those who lost their lives. We must make sure that those responsible for the tragedy are taken to task because this is the only way to make sure that it won’t happen again.

10 thoughts on “Royal Reaction

  1. Yes … the language of the King orders were strong this time … I am personally optimistic about this and hope things will start to take another direction for Jeddah after this hard learned lesson.

  2. I do hope the focus is on recovering bodies and repairing the current damage while examining the contributing factors and correcting all that are amenable, including preparations for the unusual in terms of rainfall or tides (tsunamis–some of which are a result of engineering problems).

    Making whatever oversight positions are created transparent and accountable would be an excellent start. (Hopefully that isn’t too Polyanna-ish a wish).

  3. I hope I’m wrong but as an outside observer I don’t see this committee will be effective, at least not in investigating corruption.

    The makeup of the committee isn’t sound: appointing the head of the Makkah Province will create a conflict of interest. I’m not suggesting that Prince Khaled al-Faisal IS corrupt – but as Province Governor he forms part of the power structure in Jeddah. Asking public officials to investigate corruption in their own ranks will likely deliver a predictable result. Besides, I’m sure he has enough to do already as Governor. He has already said it was just a natural disaster, unavoidable. With an attitude like that will he be motivated to root out corruption? Probably not.

    The committee members should be completely independent. In Australia Royal Commissions are headed by retired judges.

  4. Aaron
    you really don’t need to suggest the al Faisal is not corrupt, because HE IS !!
    I really don’t understand how the corrupt ones in the top are going to investigate the corrupt ones in the bottom
    Its just silly

  5. We have heard and read a lot about investigating the past but how about implanting and executing the appropriate measures to avoid such future disaster. Personally, I am afraid this is going to be ( ja3ja3a bela ta7an).

  6. believe me nothing will change. coz the whole system is corrupt. and there are rules to be followed if you like to make the investigation fair and just.

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