TAIF – Once bubbling with water and attracting visitors to its picturesque landscape, Ekrima dam in Al-Mathna area of Taif is now completely dry. Saudi Gazette met some visitors at the site.
“I came here with my Saudi friend two years back. Water was full then, I mistook it to be Taif’s river,” said Mohammad Sayed Waqas, 19-year-old student from Pakistan who had come on vacation to Saudi Arabia. “I have come now with my family this year, but am astonished to see no water here.”
His 45-year-old father, Dr. Sayed Khourshid, Chest Physician in King Faisal Hospital in Taif, said: “My son told me about a river in Taif. We came here to see it, but found the height of dryness.” “Rainfall has been very low this year, that is why the dam is completely dry,” said Abdul Atief Abdul Raheem, the dam’s guard. “Two years back there was huge rainfall and the water level was 9 meters high.”
Last weekend, heavy rainfall in Jizan, Abha, Baha and Abu Reesh regions led to deadly floods and claimed the lives of four people. In contrast, Taif received no rainfall. Though it received some rainfall two months back, but it was insufficient to fill the dam.
Explaining the sources of the dam, Abdul Atief said, “Water comes here from four valleys – Al-Wahat and Al-Wahait, Al-Duhain, Al-Manakha and Shagraa – and feeds the wells of the farms in the area as well.”
“A maintenance company looks after the dam. They clean, guard and write reports about the dam,” he added.
Visitors to the dam are likely to hear a tale about a man who left a note in his car and committed suicide in the dam. This is said to be why a lot of safety measures have to be taken at the site. Although dry now, swimming is strictly prohibited when the dam is filled with water. Ekrima Dam is one of the oldest dams in Saudi Arabia. Tourists and visitors would come regularly to what was once an enjoyable outing. Now its gates are closed.