Participants in the King Faisal Chair workshop for the development of slum areas in Makkah demanded that living conditions there be improved, a local newspaper reported. They stressed that addressing the living conditions along with economic and educational issues in the areas would contribute to the comprehensive development that the leadership of this country espouses.
The workshop also warned about rising crime rates in the slum areas. The past year saw a 10 percent rise in crime over the previous year.
The workshop was entitled “The role and visions of government agencies and developers in the project of addressing and developing slum areas in Makkah.” It was held at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the Commission for the Development of Makkah, with the participation of Osama Al-Bar, Makkah mayor and head of the Chair Council, the Secretary General of the Commission for the Development of Makkah and the Holy Sites, and 25 representative from both the public and private sectors.
The former mayor of Makkah, Fuad Mohammad Ghazali, demanded that developers undertake a study of the poor families living in these areas. “Such developers should work on providing and endorsing government lands near urban areas to build alternative and affordable houses for them,” he added.
Managing Director of the electricity company in Makkah, Waleed Hamid Al-Ghamdi, said that company employees face strong opposition when trying to disconnect electricity in these slums. He argued that competent bodies should find radical solutions because development of the area is in the best interests of all parties concerned. Brig. Mansour Obaid Al-Wafi, Assistant Chief of Police in Makkah said that these slums have become hotbeds of crime. “In 2011, about 38 percent of all crimes occurred in such neighborhoods,” he said. “Residents of these neighborhoods are unemployed, with no education and very poor,” he said.
Six neighborhoods are scheduled to be demolished, according to Mohammed A. Al-Gannawi, General Manager of Umm Al-Qura Development and Construction Company. “About 33 percent of the project’s administrative and imbursements procedures have been completed so far,” he added. “The important issue here is to focus on the human development of the residents,” confirmed Mohammad Fawaz Al- Omieri, Deputy Head of the Municipality Council in Makkah.
He warned against the reemergence of such slums in the future because of the high price of real estate.