Holy Sh*t!

Just arrived in Jeddah last evening. As the plane descended, there were rain-clouds a few hundred meters above the ground level and the evening light reflected on the puddles and pools of water down below in the city. I never imagined Jeddah to be this wet. This was unusual.

Jeddah and rain doesn’t happen that often. When it does, they don’t blend well either.

While I was away enjoying the good life in Paradise, the city of Jeddah had been greeted by millions of Hajj pilgrims. Along with them came the heaviest rainfall in the recent decades.

On the 25th of November, a few hours of heavy rain unleashed “flash floods” that killed a little over a hundred people and rendered thousands homeless. Closer to a thousand people are still unaccounted for and an estimated six and a half thousand homes have been destroyed. Closer to 5,000 cars have been written off or washed away, not to mention the hundreds of brand new cars that went under the water in their storage facilities. The damage runs into billions of dollars. All this, in just four hours of heavy rain.

But this, is nothing compared to the biggest problem.

Imagine a typical “Lanka” petrol tanker (bowser). Fill it up with sewage. (Yes, sewage). Multiply it by 3,000. Empty them in a lake. Continue this practice for over 10 years, every single day.

Now imagine this sewage-lake at a higher level of a mountain and a city built in the valley below.

That city is Jeddah. What separates the city from the invasion of sewage is a tiny dam built with reinforced sand, not concrete. This dam has shown signs of weakness with the unexpected rainfall that filled the reservoir to the brim. The city of Jeddah was about to get flooded in sewage if the rain continued non-stop. Thankfully, the rain ceased and mellowed down giving room for the emergency crew to ‘pump’ the sewage out of the reservoir and bring the situation under control. But the situation still poses a threat with the continued sporadic rain.

Imagine a city flooded in sh*t..! Now that, is a real problem.

And we think the uncollected garbage bag in front of our gate is a cause for concern. ;)


  1. holy shit indeed!!! :O What the hell were they thinking, I mean Saudi Arabia isn't even a poor country, can't they atleast make a concrete or masonry dam? :/

    btw, hope you enjoyed your little trip down here... :)

  2. Thats scary.. Over the last ten years have they not figured something else out?
    That makes me think that big garbage mountain just in the border of colombo would have also been built up in the last five years...

  3. @Chavie: Saudi Arabia isn’t poor, but their wealth is not distributed at all. There are beggars (especially the ones who come on Hajj and never leave) and poor Saudis in rural areas - the country is not that sophisticated, the level of education is also very disappointing. There are “Development Projects” that cost the government billions of dollars, but nothing is ever built, the money just disappears. One example is the “Jeddah Drainage Project” where the contractor constructed man-holes along the streets and there were no drainage pipes laid underground! He disappeared with billions of dollars!!

    And yes, had a great break, thank you.

    @Santhoshi: Yeah, one would wonder why! When I was schooling, Kirulapone was a huge, stinking garbage dump – but now look at the market and the Police Station! Can’t believe the change.

  4. Was terrible this year. :S
    During 2005, parental unit went for Hajj and got caught to the floods while at Arafat if u know what it means. :)