Saudi Arabia: Citizens’ Fury At Flood Deaths

Saudi Arabia's second largest city, Jeddah, was struck by heavy floods last week, and the death toll has risen to more than 100 people. Poor infrastructure and mismanagement of city works construction have been blamed, and thousands have joined a Facebook group criticising the authorities. Bloggers in Saudi Arabia have also been vociferous in condemning the local government, as we hear in this post.

On YouTube albaraa1994 posted this video showing the flooding:

Saad Al Dosari says:

If anybody wishes to write a management book about project management failures, he will find plenty of examples in this aged bride of the red sea; Jeddah. Project management failures, this is my only explanation to what happened in Jeddah this past week. Millions and millions of riyals have been spent on projects that promised state of the art infrastructure to the long time forgotten city and guess what; those projects could not stand four hours of rain!

Ahmed Al Omran says:

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.

According to MuSe:

Ironically most of the dead were non-Saudis and the poor, even death know how to discriminate. lots of head should be rolling the following days , lots of unfaithful and corrupted officials, but i am not optimistic about that, they keep gambling on our forgetting nature.

Najla is outraged:

ما حصل في جدة .. جريمة قتل..
What happened in Jeddah…is murder…

Zuhair Alghamdi has an idea:

والأمر يتكرر كل عدة سنوات ولا افهم كيف لا يتم دراسة تلك الحوادث السابقة بجدية ووضع الحلول وخاصة أن الحالة لا تصل إلى ما تتعرض له دول مثل الفلبين وأندنوسيا مثلا حيث الأمطار الغزيرة حدث معتاد طوال السنة. وربما لو استعنا بخبراء من تلك الدول بدل أن نقع في نفس المشكلة كل عدة أعوام.
This is repeated every few years, and I do not understand how previous incidents have not been seriously studied and solutions developed, especially since the situation is not as severe as in countries like the Philippines and Indonesia, for example, where heavy rains are usual throughout the year. Maybe we should hire experts from those countries, instead of experiencing the same problem every few years.

Eman Al Nafjan makes a suggestion:

Heavy rains led to flooding because of how the city is managed. Millions go into its infrastructure for digging sewers and putting in pipelines and paving roads but by the time the money finally trickles down to the purchase of material and hiring contractors, it doesn’t cover the costs anymore. For the past few years the people of Jeddah have been complaining and grumbling about it. […] I propose that the king hand over the Jeddah municipality to ARAMCO as he did with KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology) when it became apparent that officials were skimming the budget.

KAUST is near Jeddah, and some students have written about how the rain affected the KAUST campus. Eric says:

This morning, after a rather romantic thunderstorm, all hell broke loose; along with a handful of houses. […] After blocking out the sirens and the impressive filing of emergency crew workers lining the streets I was able to soak in the damage of this otherwise harmless rain storm. The roads were flooded two feet deep in water, the entire female population had been evacuated from their housing (sent to Jeddah for at least the next week), and ten male students were relocated because the conditions in their homes were “uninhabitable” (in other words, they didn’t just have leaks, they had entire ceilings collapse in the middle of the night as a result of water build up). In short, KAUST had become a refugee camp in a matter of hours.

Another KAUST student, Nathan, writes:

Heavy rain is something like a natural disaster because the infrastructure here is not designed to handle water. Homes flooded, streets flooded, and the mobile phone network was knocked out for a while. The rain was pretty incredible, we must have got three inches in just under an hour (about 7.5 cm). The weather network says that Jeddah only gets 54 mm of Rain every year – we've exceeded our limit for the next 1.5 years in one night!

Ibrahim Hudaif asks:

Do they have at least a disaster recovery plan for the Shaheen the supercomputer center at KAUST?

Finally, Ahmad Qushmaq points out what makes these floods a little different:

إن ما يميز “فضيحة” الأربعاء هو استخدام التكنولوجيا لتوثيق العورات التي كشفت.
What distinguishes Wednesday's scandal is the use of technology to document the weaknesses revealed.


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