Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rain: A Word to Dread in Jeddah?

It is not surprising when pupils are excited that they do not have to go school the next day. But it is certainly surprising when they say, "We will not go to school tomorrow because the teachers say that it is probably going to rain." Surprising for somebody who comes from a country where people go about their normal activities despite the rain.

It is probably going to rain in Jeddah and people are advised to stay indoors. We are not talking about a storm here. If it doesn't rain the next day as we all dreaded, then "al hamdulillah." But it is another lost day for the people because of the rate of absenteeism at work and its impact on the country's economy in general. When it rains, it is a catastrophe. Streets and homes are flooded, cars are destroyed, goods are lost, and worst of all lives are lost.

If you have never lived in Jeddah before or have never seen videos of the damages caused by the rains in this city, you might think that it is out of place to ask people to stay indoors because it is probably going to rain the next day. If you have never witnessed it before, you should watch the short clip below.

The second video shown below was taken in my neighbourhood; just a few metres from our apartment building. It took over a week for the flood waters to completely go away.

It did not rain for a whole day nonstop. No. It rained for only a few hours and this happened. Why? This is simply because of the lack of drainage systems. For most people who have never lived in Saudi Arabia before, it would be shocking to learn that something like this happened in this petrol-rich country. Yet it did, and we would still tremble when meteorologists predict it is going to rain in the near future.

On January 26, 2011, lives were lost, properties were also lost and much more. It was sad to see something like this happen when it could have been prevented. People were infuriated; Saudi and non-Saudi alike because we were all affected by this disaster. They wanted justice and the authorities carried out investigations to bring the guilty ones to the bar (read more here) The concerned individuals could be punished, but is not going to bring back the lives that were lost. This can be prevented from happening again. May Allah help Saudi Arabia.

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