It started raining yesterday morning.
“Alhamdulillah,” we exclaimed. We haven’t seen any rain in months. In just a few hours, the premature romanticization of the desert city’s rainfall on social media turned into serious coverage of an oft-repeated nightmare that has plagued Jeddah for more than a decade.
The amount of rain exceeded that of 2009. It does not happen often, but in those rare cases, all the shortcomings of the infrastructure of the city of more than 4 million people materialize. After each such event, criticisms and calls for responsibility come to the fore, followed by assurances about solutions and investments so that the damage and victims would not be repeated.
At least two people lost their lives yesterday. They say that the rainfall and with it the floods reveal all the corruption and empty promises of the local authorities, who are still waiting and delaying anti-flood measures. Where is the Vision 2030, the residents of Jeddah and the surrounding region keep asking. Rain really does not visit often, but every few years it leaves too severe consequences for such an (self-proclaimed) advanced urban environment.
Our district was not nearly as affected as some of the other neighborhoods from where we could see videos of rushing water carrying a river of cars.
We can count ourselves lucky and grateful that we did not suffer the consequences of yesterday’s floods.
How many more times does this have to happen? I couldn’t care less about NEOM and all the other high-flying ambitions. Existing old cities, which provide a home for millions of Saudis and expats, need investments for greater safety. But the caravan goes on.