Saudi warmth sellers ... jobless by law



Abdullah Sayel

Published — Sunday 20 January 2013

Last update 20 January 2013 2:21 am

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A big number of Saudi families, especially suburban, live off selling firewood. The short Saudi winter season is their only window. They cut some desert trees, and sell them, after trimming, for those who need them for warming. That’s how these Saudi families make their living for a whole year.
The problem with the decision of banning the sale of firewood is that it did not differentiate between those who live out of this harsh business and those who jump to it occasionally. The latter are known to be the main reason behind the massive cutting leading to serious desertification and threats of extinction to tree species.
My question here is: Wasn’t a better watch over desert trees a good solution?
Why are the poor Saudi families paying such a cruel penalty for others’ faults?
The environmental concerns are of great value in this perspective, I know and appreciate. But the Saudi environmental authorities could have done a lot better than this. What if they had allowed a chance to identify Saudis who work as lumberjacks? List them, and authorize their jobs. Moreover, in a spacious country like ours, it is possible to specify certain spots for authorized lumberjacks to do what they have been doing for generations. Sadly enough, those families are not offered any replacement jobs. So the clear fact here says that they shall remain jobless until someone realizes the effect of the new law.
Frankly, I can’t be very optimistic about the idea of offering them any replacements or at least, a pension that may help them survive.

— The writer is the chairman of the Saudi Cartoon & Animation Society

• Twitter: @abdullahsayel

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