Cement shortage triggers crisis in Makkah

Updated 19 December 2012
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Cement shortage triggers crisis in Makkah

The depleting cement stock has triggered a crisis in Makkah, as the price of one cement bag reached SR 20 in the black market recently.
It is feared that more than 300 construction projects will have to be suspended due to the cement shortage. Whilst other contractors are buying cement at higher prices in the black market because they fear heavy fines will be imposed on them if their projects are not completed at the agreed-upon time.
Chairman of the Contractors Committee at the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) Abdullah Al-Saeedi said the MCCI planned to raise the issue to the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry to find an immediate solution.
“The crisis began to unfold 10 days ago when distributors failed to meet the rising demand for cement,” Al-Saeedi said, adding that the price may go above SR 20 per bag.
Another source said the shortage would be more acute next year, as the expansion work of some cement factories is likely to last not less than 18 months and establishing new factories will take between 24 to 30 months.
In the Taif market, the price of a cement bag reached SR 21 and even that supply is a trickle, a market source said.
The source added that the situation would lead to unexpected delays in the completion of a number of projects despite the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s assurance that it is in total control of the situation, especially after last year’s crisis, which required intervention to bring down the price.
Traders and truck drivers blamed factories for not releasing sufficient quantities of the commodity to the market. They said the factories are now supplying only one full load for each truck in a week, while in the past they used to release three or four loads for each truck per week.
On the other hand, however, Sultan Al-Sobaie, a Saudi cement buyer, blamed truck drivers for the cement shortage. “It is the lack of effective market monitoring that prompts laborers and truck drivers to push up the price artificially,” Al-Sobaie said.
He requested authorities to take urgent steps to oversee prices and supply sufficient quantities of cement, while expressing his surprise with regards to the unexpected hike in cement prices this year.
An official of the ministry in Taif said inspectors have been monitoring markets since the problem began two weeks ago.
The crisis appeared in the Yanbu cement market three days ago, despite the fact that market was full of cement some days ago. These days a large number of empty trucks are queuing up in front of the local cement company waiting for deliveries. Truck drivers, who demand SR 15 for a bag instead of the permitted SR 14, say they want a higher price because their trucks have been waiting for five days to get a load of the commodity. A driver said if he supplied a load of 500 bags in Makkah or Jeddah he would profit SR 4,000 while he would only earn a profit of SR 2,500 if he sold the cement in Yanbu.
An official at the Commerce and Industry Ministry’s branch in Yanbu said his office did not receive a reply to the letter it sent to the cement factory in the city, demanding an explanation for why trucks are waiting for days before receiving the cement load.


World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate her first time driving on a main street of Alkhobar city in eastern Saudi Arabia on her way to Bahrain on June 24, 2018. (AFP / HUSSAIN RADWAN)
Updated 25 June 2018
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World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

  • As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-ti
  • The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet 

JEDDAH: The world awoke on Sunday to images and video footage many thought they would never see — newly empowered Saudi women taking the wheel and driving their cars.

As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-time drivers.

The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet.

“I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and the spirit to dream,” she said.

In a tribute to Saudi female drivers, the Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji released a special video of a song she performed live in Riyadh at a concert last December “Today women in Saudi Arabia can legally drive their cars,” she said. “Congratulations on this achievement, this one’s for you!”

Back home in Saudi Arabia, the atmosphere was euphoric. “It’s a beautiful day,” businesswoman Samah Algosaibi said as she cruised around the city of Alkhobar. 

“Today we are here,” she said from the driver’s seat. “Yesterday we sat there,” she said, pointing to the back.

“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated,” said Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena, one of the first women to drive in the Kingdom.

She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”

Almaeena urged all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.

“But I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”