Khaled Almaeena
Khaled Almaeena

The other day I saw a man in a parking lot empty his car ashtray in the street. Only an hour before, near a traffic light a driver in an expensive car opened the door and threw a few cans on the street. Incidents like this happen every hour. No wonder Jeddah is a very untidy and dirty city where many residents and citizens seem to have no civic sense.

Even if you have armies of cleaners clearing away the garbage, they cannot make much impact. I have seen streets and lanes covered with litter hours after they were cleared.

What is the problem then? Is it because we have no regard for tidiness and order? Are we by nature dirty in outlook? Do we not care for the environment? I would go further and say, “Don’t we have some self-respect“?

Living in lavish homes, driving luxurious cars and leading an expensive lifestyle do not mean we are good citizens. Responsibility toward our environment is a must. Cleanliness they say is next to godliness. And we have to be clean in thought, word and deed.

We go to the mosque and come out after Iftar and throw empty cans and plastic bottles. Our worship inside flies away with the wind. Because prayers infuse a sense of discipline. Having said all this, I believe that stringent laws against littering will act as a deterrent for offenders. But then we come again on the same subject of implementation. Who is going to implement these laws?

The municipality, the police or the governorate?

On a Friday morning in Sharjah about a month ago from my room on the 11th floor, I was staring at the lake. I observed some Arab workers on the Corniche eating breakfast. After they finished, one of them collected all the paper and polyethene bags and cans and deposited them in the garbage disposal unit. I bet to myself they would never have done it in their own country or even here. There was no one watching them, they could have walked off. However, the Sharjah municipal laws on littering and garbage disposal were followed.

We need to introduce and implement laws to make our city clean. Starting from a massive media campaign, school programs and senior officials leading from the front.

Tie this campaign with the positive effects of recycling and involve all people here in Jeddah and across the country and you will have a tidy city. Until then sad to say we will not make it on the clean cities list.

— Reprinted with permission of the Saudi Gazette and Khaled Almaeena. The writer is Editor-at-Large. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena