No, It’s Not Southern Beirut
HERE’s a picture I took from my apartment’s balcony a few days ago showing the rubble left behind after they tore down a run-down apartment building behind the building I live in.
With all the scenes of destruction in Lebanon that we’ve been seeing on television, I thought this evoked scenes from that war without the horror and casualties, obviously.
I didn’t even notice that the building was being pulled down until I heard heavy noises one morning and decided to investigate. Good riddance I say to that building as it was rundown and yucky.
And speaking of apartment buildings, the continued severe water shortage here in Jeddah has been a nightmare to live with. I never have water coming out of my faucets and am forced to buy water around three times a week from a water truck that comes around. The water costs 3 riyals a gallon (it’s actually drinking water, but I don’t trust lesser quality water as its often salty). So, I’ve been spending around SR360 ($100) a month just on water that I store in these large, blue plastic drums.
Because of this severe lack of water, I’ve been looking to move to a building that has a regular water supply. I looked at one apartment last night with my friend Marvin. We liked the fact that it is on the fifth floor with views of Jeddah’s famed water fountain! But the building is from the seventies and the previous tenants left the apartment in a mess, especially the kitchen where it looked like they had literally cooked greasy food in the sink and never cleaned it! It was disgusting. The “hariss” (guard) said they were going to repaint the apartment and clean it and that I could come back in a month to see it then.
At an editorial meeting a few weeks one of my colleagues said that he was writing a story claiming that Jeddah’s water shortage had been solved. What folly! We all screamed “NO! It hasn’t!! What planet are you living on?!” and that was the end of that story.
I don’t see any end to Jeddah’s water woes anytime soon. The water we are supposed to be getting from the Shuaiba desalination plant, 100 kilometers south of Jeddah, is clearly not enough to meet demand. The only solution in my mind is to install water meters for every residence and charge commercial rates for water consumption, just like they do for electricity. That way people would stop wasting water, and get over their stupid belief that water is free. It’s not and never will be in a desert country like Saudi Arabia where it barely rains and there are no rivers.