Only civic society can make our cities safe

Lately there have been several articles written criticizing municipal services in Jeddah. The most common complaint is related to the municipal campaign targeting eating places and coffee shops around the city. I was one of the many who were critical of the methods used by the municipality and the manner in which the raids were conducted.

In this day and age, the public can no longer tolerate the aggressive behavior of government employees. If any problem or discrepancy exists, government employees are expected to carry out their duties in a more civilized manner. We are not a police state! People are no longer intimidated by municipal, labor or health inspectors who barge in unannounced and are very hostile in their behavior. They need to understand that their job is to supervise and monitor, not to dictate, accuse and abuse. Saudi King Salman has reiterated that the welfare of the people should be the top priority of the government.

Civic duty

But having said that, the public should also be aware that we must all be held accountable for our actions. Everyone has a duty to contribute to the welfare of the country. Unfortunately, there are those among us who are always critical and demanding but give nothing in return. They throw their litter on the road and complain of the dirt. They drive recklessly and blame others when they have an accident. They show no discipline at work and are angry if they are fired. They expect everyone to serve them but are reluctant to lend a hand to help others. For our country to prosper and develop, there is no alternative to hard work, discipline, responsible behavior and teamwork.

Everyone has a duty to contribute to the welfare of the country. Unfortunately, there are those among us who are always critical and demanding but give nothing in return

Khaled Almaeena

It is not enough to only express our “patriotism” and love for our country on its national day. Patriotism is when one is eager to serve his country and feels responsible for the welfare of his community and the protection of his environment.

The first task of a civilized society is to observe rules and regulations and respect government facilities that have been provided for our needs. Sadly, the prevalence of destructive and reckless behavior has not allowed government departments to maintain the beauty and the cleanliness of our cities. Although municipal cleaning services work tirelessly, we continue to throw litter and all kinds of refuse on the streets. Go to any shopping mall and check the parking area and you will find that it looks like a garbage dump. The newly built Corniche in Jeddah is already damaged, and the landscaping in the parks looks shabby. Go to any park and see the food related litter that brings rats and other infectious animals.

Total disregard

No one feels safe on the road anymore. Total disregard for safety and human life seems to have become an integral part of our DNA. There are many examples of vandalized government property and public facilities, and the list goes on and on.

However, we should not encourage our children to moan and complain. We should teach them discipline and respect for knowledge and hard work. To be fair, the government has provided facilities. But we have not risen to the occasion and maintained them.

So where do we start? First let us begin with our homes and then look after our neighborhoods. Our actions will be multiplied and will cover the entire city. Jeddah municipality does not possess a magic wand. We need to show support and cooperation so that municipality staff can implement the necessary services effectively and efficiently. But as long as we are indifferent and lack civic sense, the situation will remain the same. The blame game will continue and no work will be done. So let us all join forces to build a civic society? Jeddawis, let the work begin!


This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Feb. 21, 2015.


Khaled Almaeena is a veteran Saudi journalist, commentator, businessman and the editor-at-large of the Saudi Gazette. Almaeena has held a broad range of positions in Saudi media for over thirty years, including CEO of a PR firm, Saudi Television news anchor, talk show host, radio announcer, lecturer and journalist. As a journalist, Almaeena has represented Saudi media at Arab summits in Baghdad, Morocco and elsewhere. In 1990, he was one of four journalists to cover the historic resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Russia. He also traveled to China as part of this diplomatic mission. Almaeena's political and social columns appear regularly in Gulf News, Asharq al-Aswat, al-Eqtisadiah, Arab News, Times of Oman, Asian Age and The China Post. He can be reached at and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45
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