Bride of the Red Sea gets a facelift

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SOON, Jeddah will have a new, renovated and a state-of-the-art coastal front that is sure to provide quiet enjoyment with popular seaside entertainment and community facilities. This new seafront is sure to be an attractive and must-see destination for the people of Jeddah and visitors from all over the Kingdom.

The size of this new seafront can harbor more than 120,000 people at the same time. The sheer numbers that it can hold is sure to provide a place for families and friends to visit, making it a veritable weekend and holiday hotspot. The project is near completion and soon it will be opened for public. This project is promising and it took years to complete, costing nearly SR800 million.

The beauty of the project is mainly that it is planned and systematic as it blends into the city’s coastline. It also holds a lot of green space and many playgrounds for children including swimming pools, which makes it more attractive for families. For the safety of the children and visitors, five towers with professional and expert rescue staff will monitor the beach in case of emergencies. It has, what will be, the longest pedestrian bridge in Saudi Arabia, 14 fountains, restaurants and many other surprises for Jeddah residents and visitors.

That the Bride of the Red Sea needed a facelift was evident with the lack of a planned beachfront that the citizen and nationals could savor, while being ready to take in large numbers of visitors who travel domestically. Jeddah needed such projects as we have seen that the current beach does not accommodate many residents and visitors with such a bounty of space and recreation.

As a Jeddah resident for many years, I believed that the beach was a turnoff as it lacked major facilities. Examples of that can be enumerated and they are sitting areas, bathrooms, parking space, playground for children and many other things. A visitor in the past, and maybe even recently, would have noticed that it lacked cleanliness, not because of any neglect of the municipality cleaning workers, but because of the behavior of some visitors when they care two whit of trashing the place while, some, even making sure that their trash is left behind for the cleaning workers to pick up.

Street peddlers too float around the beach without any fear of the authorities, and some sell stuff that could be dangerous to children. I do not even want to talk about the rats that infest the beach, but it is a major problem that needs to be addressed such that people visiting the new beachfront would feel safe from these rodents.

It is really painful to me when I hear criticism of my beloved city from visitors, among whom some are thrash talkers who are trash throwers that sully the beachfront. A friend of mine, who had come for Umrah and visited the Jeddah beach, of which he had heard about a lot, was sorely disappointed. After visiting the Jeddah beachfront, he complained of the foul smell that was coming from the place and the lack of cleanliness and hygiene. I could not, and did not, say anything to him, as I did not want to tell him that some of the sewerage was emptied into the sea. And he was getting the benefit of somebody’s foul deed.

His major complaint, however, was the lack of public toilets saying that he had to cross all the way to the other side of the beach to a restaurant to use their bathroom. Visitors with such views will take their negative experience back home to paint a negative image of Jeddah, especially when they compare it with neighboring country’s beaches, like Dubai.

Before opening this new project, we need to set up strict rules against vandals and people who throw trash or leave their trash behind. Any project will not succeed if rules are not implemented swiftly. This new project is a gift for all and there is no room for violators to share this place. If they were born to vandal public facilities, then they should be put in their places.

One thing I dearly wish that I do not see in this new beach project is foggy areas created by smokers and shisha users. This whole place should be made smoke free and the same penalties that smokers face inside the airport for violation should be implemented in this place. Smokers have no consideration toward others as they smoke in front of children, teaching them indirectly this bad habit. The sight of a man who brings his shisha to the beach shows lack of respect toward others as he think this place is part of his home and could willy-nilly do anything he wants.

I also wish that the municipality would pay more attention to beautifying our streets and add more sculptures that adorned specific spots in the city during the 80s and 90s. Most of these art objects have disappeared because of the tunnels and bridges that were introduced in the urban planning to ease traffic in the city. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Makkah governor, however, needs to be thanked for bringing forward such projects that will bring life to the city that is called, the bride of the Red Sea.

— The writer can be reached at mahmad@saudigazette.com.sa Twitter: @anajeddawi_eng


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