Higher water bills create angry waves

Updated 22 March 2016

Higher water bills create angry waves

JEDDAH: There has been a surge in complaints to the National Water Company (NWC) by Saudis about higher water bills resulting from the increased tariffs announced by the government late last year.
Citizens have registered their displeasure on the company’s social media pages because they claim that their bills have more than doubled since the new prices came into effect. Many also claimed that the NWC had failed to respond to their complaints.
Former Hilal player Faisal Abu Thnain wrote on Twitter: “Did the National Water Company change the quality of water pumped to citizens or has it added vitamins to it?” He claimed that his water bill was now SR30,000, according to a report in a local publication on Monday.
Other users also complained: Majed Al-Saleh wrote that his bill had risen from SR8 to SR1,429, Eman Alarfaj posted a picture of her bill on Twitter showing an amount of SR3,393, and Ibrahim Alasim wrote that his bill had increased from SR86 to SR1,024.
Journalist Tareq Aljasir wrote that he had filed a complaint about his bills over the past two months of SR1,200 and SR1,400, which he has not paid, but has yet to get a response from the water company. Haifaa Altamimi stated that she previously paid SR100 a year and was now forking out SR1,750 every three months.
Others concerned about the hike in prices stated that Saudis should not be treated like Europeans or Americans, because Muslims have to perform ablution five times a day. He said Saudi families are large, consisting of between five and seven members, which should be taken into consideration when looking at consumption.
Minister of Water and Electricity stated on its website that consumption was high in the Kingdom compared to the global average and that the public had reduced consumption despite several awareness campaigns.
Minister of Water and Electricity Abdullah Al-Hussayen had earlier said that most citizens would not be affected by the hike in prices, which were among the cheapest in the world. He said 52 percent of subscribers would not pay more than one riyal per day.
He said that supply would not be affected and that they were in line with the specifications of the WHO. The Kingdom ranks third after the US and Canada in terms of average daily water consumption, despite the scarcity of water and the difficulty in desalinating and delivering it to consumers, he said.

Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

Updated 11 July 2020

Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

  • Saudis turn to domestic traveling and flock to their nation’s cooler cities and rural areas

TAIF: As Saudi citizens turn to domestic tourism in the country’s summer resorts, adapting to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, rural areas have become targeted by local tourists wishing to get away from the soaring temperatures in most of the Kingdom’s cities.

Visitors are now choosing cold Saudi cities instead of Europe, which they are accustomed to visiting, such as Taif, Al-Baha, and Abha.

COVID-19 has postponed all plans to travel abroad, and attention has now focused on domestic tourism amid strict health protocols in parks, gardens and recreational areas.

Walid Al-Hamidi, vice president of the Tourism Development Council, confirmed to Arab News that Asir, with its facilities and attractions, was ready to receive summer visitors from across the country.

He said that under the directives of Asir's governor, who supervises all activities and events directly and constantly, many committees had been formed to prepare a successful summer tourism season, to optimize the opportunity and allow people to enjoy the exceptional ambiance of Asir.

“A comprehensive tourism plan was set up two years ago, which resulted in a successful Al-Soudah Season with the support of Asir’s Investment Authority,” Al-Hamidi added.

He noted that Asir’s directives aimed this year to build an exceptional tourism model that meets optimal health standards in dealing with COVID-19.

The model is supported by the “Nashama Asir” team — consisting of 4,000 volunteers — who have been trained for months and have all the necessary skills to make the season successful. Their work will continue until the end of the pandemic and throughout the summer.

“Everyone is ready at public facilities, gardens and parks, to serve tourists,” he said, adding “tourists coming from all the over the Kingdom will be welcomed with smiles, enhanced services, and warm welcomes.”

Dr. Sami Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taif, told Arab News that the tourism sector was the economic backbone of any country or city.

He said that Taif was considered one of the most important tourist cities, given its many attractions  that made it top of any list of places to visit in the Kingdom.

“Suspending travel abroad, and limiting tourism … due to the coronavirus pandemic, makes us, as officials and citizens in Taif, well placed for a beautiful and safe tourism season for Taif’s citizens and visitors,” said Al-Obaidi.

“Meetings are held around the clock, headed by Saad Al-Maimouni, the governor of Taif, with the participation of the relevant authorities.”

He expected all sectors, especially tourism, hospitality and a few other businesses in Taif, to recover to some extent during this season, especially now tourists have already started flocking to the region, with numbers set to increase over the coming weeks.