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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08JEDDAH93 2008-02-26 08:12:00 CONFIDENTIAL Consulate Jeddah
Cable title:  

INSIDE THE JEDDAH MUNICIPAL COUNCIL: CURRENT

Tags:   PGOV PHUM KDEM KISL SA 
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VZCZCXYZ0002
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHJI #0093/01 0570812
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 260812Z FEB 08
FM AMCONSUL JEDDAH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0549
INFO RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 7748
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L JEDDAH 000093 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

RIYADH PLEASE PASS TO DHAHRAN, DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ARP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2018
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM KISL SA
SUBJECT: INSIDE THE JEDDAH MUNICIPAL COUNCIL: CURRENT
PROJECTS AND FUTURE PLANS

Classified By: Tatiana C. Gfoeller for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) BEGIN SUMMARY AND COMMENT: In meetings with Jeddah
Municipal Councilors, including Council President Tarek
Fadaak and Vice President Hasan Zahrani, Post has learned of
how the Council troubleshoots resident concerns, the nature
of ongoing projects, and plans for the future. In the past
two years it has overseen Municipality projects on road
repair, construction of new cemeteries, and clean-up and
construction of parks. Since the new year, it has had to
grapple with two major issues: landfill fires and the
resulting health effects as well as the near-demolition of a
zoo.



2. (C) The Council continues to encourage Jeddawis to provide
feedback on how the Council can better address residents'
concerns through an initiative known as "Friends of Jeddah,"
and to facilitate workshops to improve the technical
expertise of local professionals focusing on Jeddah's urban
development. Additionally, Council President Fadaak shared
with Pol Chief his hopes to televise Council meetings and for
Councilors to participate in international exchanges.
Despite Fadaak's renewed enthusiasm, the question remains
whether Jeddawis consider the Council legitimate or effective
(Septel). END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

FOCUS OF THE COUNCIL: POLLUTION TO PARKS



3. (C) According to Jeddah Municipal Council President Tarek
Fadaak and Vice President Hasan Zahrani the Jeddah Municipal
Council focuses on four main issues: pollution, health,
infrastructure, and parks. (COMMENT: Fadaak is a
SAG-appointed Councilor, a member of King Abdulaziz
University faculty, and considered a "liberal" by Jeddah
elite; Zahrani is an elected Councilor, a member of the
Religious Police, and considered a "conservative." END
COMMENT.) In the past two years the Council has approved the
budget for and tracked the progress of Municipality projects
on road repair, construction of new cemeteries, and clean-up
and construction of parks.

TROUBLESHOOTING PROBLEMS: LANDFILL FIRES TO NEAR-DEMOLITION
OF ZOO



4. (C) In the new year, the Council has tried to address the
problem of burning garbage, a lack of parks, and the
near-relocation of a zoo. Concerning "dump fires," their
efforts have included visits to garbage sites as well as
educating Jeddah residents on the resulting health effects,
such as Council President Fadaak's January 19 remarks in
English-language daily Saudi Gazette. The Council is
preparing a report regarding the environmental effects of
recent fires at a Jeddah landfill and will submit it soon to
the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, which oversees
the Council.



5. (C) Fadaak and Zahrani also informed Pol Chief of a
successful park clean-up project and Municipal Councilor (and
former Council President) Rabah Al-Daheri stated that the
Council has approved for 2008 the construction of 150 parks.
Regarding the near-demolition of a local zoo, Fadaak told Pol
Chief that the Council requested Mayor Adel Fakeeh stop
immediately destruction of the zoo after learning that the
Municipality began the demolition without waiting for Council
approval. (COMMENT: Council-Municipality tension is a common
problem plaguing Council operations (Septel). END COMMENT.)
The Municipal Council plans to recommend that the zoo remain
at its current location.

ONGOING INITIATIVES: CITIZEN NETWORKS TO URBAN DEVELOPMENT
WORKSHOPS



6. (C) A growing Council initiative is "Friends of Jeddah."
Council President Fadaak explained to Pol Chief on January 21
that it is an informal network of 40-50 Jeddah residents that
report to the Council on complaints ranging from the state of
the roads to the recent problem of landfill fires. While the
Municipality Office has its own mechanism to handle
complaints (known as "940:" the number people can dial to
report a problem), the Council wanted to offer a more
"personable" and "reliant" service. During a February 12
meeting, Fadaak elaborated on a related initiative: plans to
place advertisements soliciting resident feedback on
Municipality projects and services in local newspapers in
late February.



7. (C) Another Council project is the organizing of workshops
to foster technical expertise among Jeddah's urban
development-related professionals. Council President Fadaak
and Vice President Zahrani told Pol Chief that they try to

host such workshops every four months. Typically, they said,
the lecturers include well-known professionals from a
specific field, such as architecture in the most recent case.
Fadaak added that attendees often comprise Councilors,
members of the "intelligentsia," and "a select few others"
that are active in the featured field.

FUTURE PLANS: TELEVISED MEETINGS TO INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGES



8. (C) A future goal, Fadaak mentioned, was to inform people
of the purpose and activities of the Council, adding that he
hoped to seek permission to televise Council meetings. He
argued that if the Majlis Ashura can, so can the Jeddah
Municipal Council. (NOTE: Jeddah Municipal Council meetings
are not open to the public; only specific invitees can
attend. When asked whether Pol Chief could attend, Municipal
Councilor Muhammad Abu Dawood replied: "I am not ready to die
yet." END NOTE.) He also added that he would like to
establish a "Supreme Council of Experts" that would meet with
the Council a few times a year. When prompted about which
experts he would include, he stated a preference for "the
most prominent" Jeddawis in business, architecture, and
engineering.



9. (C) Council President Fadaak and Vice President Zahrani
also expressed interest in organizing a visit for Jeddah
Municipal Council members to observe American City Councils.
He said that the Council would benefit greatly from observing
municipal councils in cities "on the cutting edge," citing
Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. (NOTE: Fadaak's
travel and study experience was in the northwestern United
States. END NOTE.) Fadaak reiterated the Council's desire
to participate in such a program at the Consul General's
recent roundtable on political and economic development,
adding that such programs are critical to learning how a
council should function.
GFOELLER