PRINCE Abdul Majeed, the governor of the Makkah province, passed away at age 64 on Saturday in Seattle, Washington. Saudi newspapers are reporting only that he died after a long illness, but rumors in the Kingdom say that he had suffered from leukemia.
He had come back to Saudi Arabia in January after months of treatment in the US, and his cancer was thought to be in remission. Indeed, huge billboards had pictures of him waving to the populace with slogans welcoming him back. Several weeks ago, new rumors sprang up that he had gone back to the US for more treatment after his cancer returned.
While little is known about him except from the few official pronouncemnets about him, there is a anecdote circulating about him that says that in the 1990s, when he was still governor of the Madinah region, the only public meeting he held ended up with him being pelted with vegetables by angry vegetable vendors who had been forced to move from the center of Madinah after he ordered their removal.****
The horrific water shortages that I complained of months ago continue in Jeddah. I'm still buying water three times a week from a vendor who comes by with a small truck filled with drinking water. At SR2.50 a gallon, it's quite expensive.
Read an excellent story that we carried in Arab News about 26,000 residents of a housing project in Jeddah who have suffered with no piped water for 20 days! But don't feel too sorry for them in particular as ALL of Jeddah is suffering from an acute water shortage which has actually turned into a veritable scarcity.
Finally, I'd like to nominate the BBC's Rachel Reid for writing the most idiotic story on Saudi Arabia this month so far. Entitled "Making a splash in Saudi", the first person piece relates how the reporter thinks she made history by forcing her 5-star hotel in Riyadh to allow her to swim in their swimming pool from 6-7 a.m. every morning.
She quotes the female Bahraini president of the United Nations General Assembly in New York as telling her that swimming in a Saudi pool was a bigger achievement than anything she herself had achieved! The reporter has the decency to disagree with that assessment, but what the hell?! As one blogger wrote about Reid's article, had the BBC reporter suddenely given up being a reporter and suddenly become an activist? An interesting point.
I would suggest Reid come here to Jeddah and visit one of the many private beaches here on the Red Sea. There she'd see Saudi women wearing bikinis and swimming in the sea in front of men!