Khaled Almaeena
Khaled Almaeena

The terrible crane tragedy in Makkah on Sept. 11 that caused over a 100 deaths and 200 injured truly shook our society. I am not going to dwell on the causes. Investigations were conducted and the results made public quickly. Nothing remained hidden. Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Salman had made it very clear that the public will have full knowledge regarding the sad incident. And the government has done just that after swiftly concluding the probe into the reasons behind the tragic incident. The manner in which King Salman took charge following the Makkah Crane tragedy was indeed very commendable. He not only led the way in consoling the families and participated in the funeral for the dead, but he also, ensured that the injured were given the best possible medical attention and care. He also announced a very generous and unprecedented compensation to the families of the victims and has shown the world that the Kingdom has a decisive and a humane leader. The King rightly ordered full and thorough investigation of the incident and the experts began their study swiftly, and arrived at a conclusion. Though not fully blaming the contractor for the tragedy it did apportion part of the blame on them for violating safety rules. For that the firm has been sanctioned. King Salman’s just and compassionate approach augurs well for the Kingdom. It also indicates to both public officials and private individuals that any offense will be questioned. The moment this tragedy occurred I was flooded with calls from various international media channels asking for reports and probable causes. However, one of the factors initially viewed as the cause was the terrible and freak weather conditions, which was underlined in the report submitted to the government. One thing I can say for sure is that I had never witnessed such terrible storms in Makkah or Jeddah and the torrential rain that followed. Another commendable factor was that the authorities were quick to react and rescue operations continued throughout the night. Bodies picked up, some badly mutilated the injured taken to hospital and those in critical condition given the treatment. This was a time when the people of all walks and all nationalities came together. International sympathy also poured in. The government assumed full responsibility, as these were the guests of God. King Salman not only directed all the operations but also paid a visit and viewed the scene of the accident. As Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques this was expected of him. What was more striking was his visit to the injured and his words of sympathy. This was not a PR exercise but a genuine expression of concern. Talking to the injured of several countries, assuring them all help and offering compensation in a dignified way was a reflection of the noble qualities of the King. These words of solace themselves alleviated my pain and suffering said an injured pilgrim. The Kingdom is determined that the pilgrimage will continue to go ahead with will provide all the support to that effect. There will be no let up. This is our duty. — 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