Jeddah is Sinking

The heavy rains on Jeddah has paralyzed the city, once again. Obviously, none of last year’s lesson has been learned. The situation is beyond disastrous, with many losses in souls and property. Watch these videos and pray for the safety of people in Jeddah.

More videos and photos can be found here and here. Follow the latest news on Twitter: #JeddahRain

Breaking News: Crisis in Riyadh

It is raining heavily on the capital Riyadh at the moment, and the situation looks disastrous. From what I can see, it is a scary reminder of the Jeddah floods. People are stuck in highways and streets around the city, especially in the north and east. Major roads are blocked. At least one person is dead. The Civil Defense and the Ministry of Health have announced a state of emergency. You can follow the news on Twitter in real time using the hashtag #riyadhrain. You can also use RiyadhRain.com, which aggregates content from Twitter. People in Riyadh are advised to stay home as heavy rains are expected to continue.

UPDATE: Watch these videos taken in Riyadh earlier today:

UPDATE 20:50 5/3/10:: It started raining in Hofuf and other cities in the Eastern Province.

UPDATE 21:00 5/4/10:: Jihad has created this very useful interactive map of Riyadh. The map shows blocked roads and streets in red so drivers can avoid them. The roads in green are reported to be okay. You can contribute to the map by using this form. The info on the map are for the last three hours.

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.

Jeddah Disaster

At least 44 people were killed in Jeddah after a heavy downpour. The rains caused a major infrastructure failure and the results were disastrous. My heart goes out to all Jeddawis.

This would not have happened if the people of Jeddah had a say in how their city is run. This would not have happened if there was transparency and accountability in how our country is governed.

I’m beyond angry and disgusted.

UPDATE 27/11/09 2:40: The death toll reaches 83. Keep in mind this is the official number announced by the Civil Defense. The actual number might be higher. More rains are expected on Jeddah tomorrow.