Jeddah’s Resourceful Residents
T. Al Maeena
Arab News Columnist
The city of Jeddah has had its share of abuses by visitors and residents alike in recent years.
It has been described as unplanned, crowded, bordering on being dirty and somewhat lawless. One doesn’t have to drive far on its roads to believe that what is being said has more than a grain of truth.
And while government bureaucracies struggle to find a direction to navigate this city out of its increasing mess, there is a concerned and resourceful group of individuals who have taken matters into their own hands and are indeed putting into action their plans for a better Jeddah.
One such group of proactive residents is the Friends of Jeddah Parks (FJP) that has been focusing its activities on the inner-city neighborhoods of Jeddah. They are a voluntary organization of Jeddah citizens from varied backgrounds and professions who have banded together to form an effective committee of good-doers and Samaritans.
Realizing a desperate need for such facilities, these individuals have dedicated themselves to creating professionally designed parks and open recreation spaces in inner-city neighborhoods. Volunteering their time, expertise, and resources, they are committed to do all of this for the good of the community and for generations to come.
Their aim is to reach most inner-city neighborhoods of Jeddah, ensuring that its open and often neglected spaces are transformed into a haven of hope for the residents.
By integrating neighborhood residents into their plans and projects, Friends of Jeddah Parks hopes to make certain that such open spaces are self-sustaining, regularly improved and developed, and contribute to the well-being of the neighborhood.
By doing this, it is hoped that some optimism and inspiration would be provided to the deprived youth of such neighborhoods, and enhance traditional values and ethics through a collective effort.
Friends of Jeddah Parks has set a defined plan toward reaching its objectives. They first study the need for open spaces in different neighborhoods through in-depth research and analysis within the communities.
Then they lobby the city authorities for the provision of lands to be allocated for parks and recreational facilities. I am told that the mayor has been very supportive and encouraging toward the goals of this group.
Then they are off to obtain funds through the lobbying of the local community, be they organizations or individuals. Contributions are the key to the success of any project, and hopefully there are enough civic-minded residents with deep pockets to ensure the continuity of such programs.
Once the funds are obtained, the joint expertise within this group, which includes architects, urban planners and landscape engineers designs the recreation facility according to the needs of the neighborhood.
Friends of Jeddah Parks’ launch project, Faisal’s Park was completed early this year, and has been very well received by the residents. Police statistics indicate that the crime rate has indeed dropped dramatically since the opening of this park and its multisports facilities that have provided an outlet for the youngsters to channel their energies in a positive manner.
Some time back, I was fortunate to visit Faisal’s Park and have to admit that it is on par or better than many of the recreation places I have seen in different parts of the world. And it is heartening to note that this one is located in a neglected neighborhood, providing a beacon of hope for its young and where its benefits are highly appreciated.
Yes Jeddah has its share of woes. But just talking about them is not going to solve them. It is time to take proactive action, as did the volunteers who have made Friends of Jeddah Parks a credible organization serving the community through various projects.
Many who read this column may have at one time or the other wanted to do some good toward their community. Our community is what we collectively make it to be. By putting our resources together as FJP did, we can make this city a better place.
God bless you all.
— Friends of Jeddah Parks welcomes you to get involved and contribute in whatever way you can. They can be reached at 657-9572