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.


Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. The 86-year-old is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. (Supplied)
Updated 15 August 2020

Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

  • The Syrian Qur’an writer, regarded as one of the world’s finest calligraphers, is on the road to recovery following his recent hospital admission

MAKKAH: Syrian calligrapher Uthman Taha is in good health and recovering at home after a 13-day stay in a hospital where he was treated for what he and his wife initially suspected to be the novel coronavirus COVID-19, although he ultimately tested negative for the virus.

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. His wife, Fatimah Umm Al-Nour, said Taha had a chest infection during his stay at the hospital and stressed that he had been “careful and took all the precautionary measures” and that he had not left the house for five months before his hospital visit.
The 86-year-old calligrapher is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. She praised his doctors, who have consistently checked in with the couple since Taha returned home, and added that she has tested negative for COVID-19 too.
Taha is regarded as one of the most skilled calligraphers in the Arab world. Al-Nour told Arab News that he continues to practice calligraphy daily.
Taha, who has written the Qur’an 12 times at the King Fahd Complex, was born in 1934 and attended school in Aleppo. His father was also a skilled calligrapher, who used the Ruq’ah script, and Taha studied with several of Syria’s finest calligraphers including Mohammed Al-Mawlawi, Mohammed Al-Khatib, Hussein Al-Turki, and Ibrahim Al-Rifai.
When he moved to Damascus for university, Taha began to learn other scripts, including Thuluth, Naskh (in which he is now considered a master), and Farsi. He received his calligraphy certificate from master calligrapher Hamed Al-Amadi in 1973.
He arrived in Saudi Arabia in 1988, and began work as a calligrapher at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. He writes the Qur’an in the Ottoman script, and copies of his work have been distributed throughout the Islamic world.
What makes Taha’s work unique is that each page of the Qur’an that he writes concludes at the end of a verse. The secret, he explains, is to simplify the words — which is the origin of the Kufic script in which the Qur’an has been written since the days of Prophet Muhammad’s companions — keeping the letters close to one another.
Taha spent years perfecting his technique of evenly distributing the words in every line so that the space between the lettering is consistent throughout every page of every book, which means eliminating many of the script combinations that make such consistency difficult.
He explained to Arab News that when he is working on his Qur’an calligraphy he is transported: “When I begin writing the Holy Qur’an, I resort to solitude to allow myself to be invested in the verses and their interpretation, forgetting about the world around me,” he said. “I wish the verses about Jannah (heaven) would never end, and my hand trembles when I write the verses about Jahannam (hell).”