One step at a time

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Jeddah is undergoing massive transformation in the sense that it has begun holding world-class events with vigor. The intent is to help heighten Jeddah’s various economic and commercial venues and interests, and that all preparations are in place to receive the huge number of tourists and visitors to the historic city.

With summer fast approaching, it is expected that the number of visitors will break all previous records and indeed all preparations had taken place to welcome the large numbers of visitors.

For some inexplicable reason, that zeal and fervor in the actual effort of trying to make our city look somewhat better and more appealing to our visitors does not match up to the excitement of those planning the events, and somehow seems to escape the attention of those busily engaged in drawing up such plans.

To drive home the point, I have included an observation by a resident European lady by what she sees during her daily walks along Jeddah’s sidewalks. She writes:

“During my routine, I pass almost daily in front of the former office building of the Jeddah Governor. The building is nice, but since the day the Governor moved to his new office building no care was taken anymore of it and the garden. Meanwhile trees died, grass and weeds are growing. Why not take care of this building and preserve it, or use it for something else instead of letting it just go to ruin?

“Opposite this building there is a park... It is still being used by families but has become quite a dangerous playground for children as stones and glass splinters are lying around, plants are not really taken care of, and there are some deep holes in the grass. It shows a complete lack of proper maintenance.

“For the litter decorating the park instead of pretty colored flowers, the people should also share the blame along with the authorities as it is an unfortunate fact that people use the whole city as a waste bin. I agree that there are not enough waste bins around. Waste bins could even be decorative and beautiful as can be seen in the Nusa Dua area in Bali; waste bins in the form of all sorts of animals and decorative art, to invite people to use them. The behavior of some of the inhabitants here displays a lack of respect toward other people. Another question still arises in this context: Why let go to wreck and ruin a stylish historic building with its garden on one side of the road and on the other side try to create a real park?

“Back to my daily walking with eyes wide open: dirt, rubbish is everywhere, drain covers are missing (a phenomenon I encountered only a few months back, but I notice it today with increasing frequency), bushes are crowding into the sidewalks preventing people easy passageway and forcing them to walk on the street. Instead of nice plants one comes across road-sign poles bent and lying on the ground.

“Furthermore, since the lack of respect shows everywhere, drivers often block pedestrian by leaving their cars on the sidewalk with the same effect for pedestrians: the only place left to walk is the street. Is there any responsible person to inspect the status of the streets, sidewalks, parks and buildings? Or are these responsible people just sitting on the green desk? Can anything be done towards the lack of respect and love for their environment,” she concluded. Words spoken through the eyes of a visitor, albeit a long-term one!

If indeed we are to provide “quality events that match the soaring reputation of Jeddah as a pioneering city of festivals not only in the region but on an international level,” shouldn’t more coordination be made with the appropriate authorities to clean and fix the rubble in the city first prior to the influx of our visitors?

Or would such steps be dismissed as someone else’s job.

— The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena


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