Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Saudi Filthy Public Toliets - Riyadh to Makkah

In year 2000, I went for my hajj from Riyadh by bus (convoy) with hundreds of Indonesians living in Riyadh. We stopped at several rest stop (R&R) areas for refreshments, solat etc and of course for relief.

The conditions of the toilets along the journey at these areas were out of this world, outrageously & shockingly dirty & filthy. They had not been maintained at all...most of the rest areas had no toilets for the ladies.

It is demeaning since Saudi has a king who hailed himself as the guardian of two holy mosques and Islam promotes cleanliness. Saudi is also a rich country.

It was cultural shock for me as I thought our (Malaysia's) public toilets were dirty.

It is very much different in the UAE with the petrol stations along the Saudi border to Abu Dhabi provide good and clean toilets.

I thought Saudi public toilet conditions had been improved until I read an entry by a blogger recently

I have written previously on the typical condition of public toilets in Saudi Arabia. And I have also suggested a woman may prefer the open expanse of the desert for relief rather than try to use a public toilet…particularly if one is driving between Riyadh and Makkah for example. However recently I heard of the alternative taken by one expat woman which I believe has simply gone too far. During this woman’s travels and seeing the pitiful condition of the public toilets adjacent to the masjid (mosque), instead of attempting to use the toilet, she actually went in to the empty masjid and relieved herself on the carpeted floor of the masjid. She did this intending to make a point about the conditions of the public toilets and seemed not to comprehend how most individuals would react to her actions.

squatting style toilet

After another recent road trip I have become convinced that the elite and wealthy of Saudi Arabia simply do not use public toilets nor do they travel any great distances in a car. Why am I making such a statement you may ask? Because consistently when traveling either East to West or North to South the conditions of the public toilets at wayside places where one would stop are atrocious and among the filthiest I have seen in my life. I was going to post a photo taken with my mobile phone camera but I decided it was actually to distasteful to publicly post.

Public toilet, Al Hasa, Saudi Arabia

For a rich country not much time or effort or interest is spent on public facilities. The majority of public toilets are connected with a mosque. Think about it, it is typical to wash and ensure one is clean (make woodoo) before praying in the mosque. Yet even the individuals preparing for their prayers must walk on floors that are not only dirty and covered with filth but usually have 2-3 inches of water amassed on the floor as well. Now imagine that scenario if you are also a woman wearing an abaya and trying to squat over a “two stepper” toilet all the while having to watch just where you do place your feet because of all the filth and garbage and waste all around. I find this appalling.

As a result, it has convinced me that the elite and wealthy have likely never been anywhere near these public toilets. I further understand why people may choose to fly from Riyadh to Damman instead of drive the 3 hour trip. The worse is going from Riyadh to Mecca. While one can have an enjoyable car ride with the changing scenery again the public toilets defy the imagination.

It really saddens me that better care is not taken for the provision of clean public washrooms. I would gladly pay a few token riyals each time I used one to know that would ensure their maintenance and cleanliness. I think back on the public rest stop areas in the States which would not only have clean western style toilets but many would also have rooms with showers as well.

I’ve traveled to many countries and Saudi Arabia is right at the top of the list of countries with the worse and dirtiest public toilets along the highways.

and one comment:-
I have lived in Malaysia for quite a while and there’s no thought in that they maintain cleanliness in terms of all facilities, .. toilets on highways,malls,stations … and general areas; including not throwing trash outside the bins .. Part of the reason i see is that they charge for use .. which I think is totally acceptable. I think most of us wouldn’t mind paying for better facilities.
Thats also the reason for the amazing highways of Malaysia .. coz they have tolls .. thus they r able to provide excellent “Rehats” … rest places .. where you would find showers, toilets, prayer areas, fruit vendors, and restorans, gas stations, …
Also, I think that a lot depends on the people who r using it. A countless number of times I came across toilets where people squatted over the western style, leaving their filthy footmarks over the seat .. and obviously making it unhygienic for other people. Now this cant be dealt with, unless people start respecting other people. …
… the latest trip being jarir .. jarir is supposed to be the top notch bookstore .. so we expect their toilets to be at least cleaner …
I remember at Ikea Malaysia , the sign read “leave the toilet as you would have wanted to find it” …. CLEAN !
I would be happy to find clean toilets in the cities first … the highways .. err .. i have given up on it …

Former World Bank chief James Wolfensohn warns 'The worst is yet to come'

Been reading the mixed predictions on the current economic turmoil....

'The worst is yet to come'

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In an exclusive interview, former World Bank chief James Wolfensohn warns that the global economy is facing a long, steep road to recovery. And in the Middle East, the spectre of youth unemployment represents a grave threat to the development of Arab nations.

When you get to a certain age, you tend to be more pessimistic," says James Wolfensohn, raising a rueful smile, and leaning forward conspiratorially in his chair. "I am apprehensive, I have to say. It just doesn't feel to me yet that we're through this crisis; I don't think that we've seen the worst."

At 75 years of age, Wolfensohn has certainly earned the right to be pessimistic. And having spent ten years as president of the World Bank, between 1995 and 2005, he has also earned enough respect to ensure his wariness will be heeded by economists and policymakers across the globe.

Story continues below

Is this Fresh Pork certified halal by Singapore Islamic Council?

No, it is a HOAX..

Assalamualaikum Wr Wb


Thank you for forwarding your feedback to Muis.

2 The `Pasar Fresh Pork (Air Flown)', packed for NTUC Fairprice Co-operative Ltd, 680 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 787103, is not Halal-certified by Muis. Our investigations at eight NTUC outlets on 31 October 2007, immediately upon receipt of this feedback, revealed that the said product did not bear the Muis Halal certification mark.

3 Please be informed that the police is currently looking into this matter. It was reported by Channelnewsasia on 1 November 2007 that the NTUC Fairprice had filed a police report over what it claimed as an act of mischief to tamper with the packaging of the pork product.

4 Thank you.

Suffian Zainuddin | Organisational Excellence

Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) | 1
Lorong 6, Toa Payoh, Singapore 319376 | Website:

E-mail on FairPrice Pasar Fresh Pork carrying halal sticker is a hoax
I AM writing with regards to an e-mail hoax from 2007, which is continuing to circulate on the Internet even today.
13 March 2009

I AM writing with regards to an e-mail hoax from 2007, which is continuing to circulate on the Internet even today.

The contents of this e-mail is a doctored image depicting one of our housebrand products, FairPrice Pasar Fresh Pork, with a halal certification mark attached to the packaging.

We are mindful of the serious religious implications of this matter and regard this as a wilful act of mischief.

Since being alerted to the mass circulation of this e-mail in 2007, NTUC FairPrice has lodged a report with the Singapore Police.

As this e-mail continues to circulate, we would like to appeal that you alert the public to the falsity of this e-mail and in doing so, assure the public that the original packaging of Pasar Fresh Pork does not carry the halal sticker from the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS).

As with all nutritional and product information for food items, we take great care in ensuring that the information printed on the packaging of our housebrand products is accurate and certified.

As a social enterprise and one of the largest retailers in Singapore, NTUC FairPrice is a household name that caters to the varying needs of the local community.

Any customers with further queries can contact our customer relations officers at (+65) 6552-2722 or through e-mail at general.feedback@fairprice.com.sg.

We hope that you would work with us in clearing the doubts in people's minds as we are still receiving queries into this matter till this very day.

We hope to bring this issue to a close in order to avoid any unnecessary confusion or offence that may be further caused.


RM24 billion credit card debt owed by Malaysians, mostly under 30s

This is a global phenomenon as individuals become mired in debt, mostly from credit cards, for a lot of reasons. In the UAE, banks are seeing up to 2,500 customers leave the country each month without paying off their credit card bills.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama signed a new credit card Bill, aimed at better protecting customers, and cracking down on abusive lending.

The law brings some new provisions to protect consumers from confusing fine print and unfair practices like a compulsory 45 day notice to customers before any changes in interest rates, and restrictions on fees and rates.

CREDIT CARD DEBT AND YOU: Under-30s under siege

Some 50 per cent declared bankrupt for credit card debt are in this age group
Monday, June 15th, 2009 06:47:00

THOSE under-30 are the leading age group for people declared bankrupt due to credit card debt. This startling finding reveals the other dimension to the general problem of credit card debt which has now reached RM23.3 billion.

“Out of the 3,548 people declaring bankruptcy by credit card, 1,774 belong to those aged 30 and below,” said Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, director-general of the Department of Insolvency Malaysia. That works out to a staggering 50 per cent.

credit debt 1

There are a number of reasons for the phenomenon but no serious study of the matter has yet been conducted , said Abdul Karim.

He added that applying for a credit card is easier these days. There are instances where you do not need to submit your pay slip to apply for one.

With credit cards easily obtained, it’s important that the right people should be the ones who are eligible for them. These cards should be made applicable to those who have the capability to pay.

Besides that, the public should also be educated on how to better manage credit finances so as not to end up in debt, Abdul Karim said.

“We’ve already witnessed what the credit crunch has done to a country as powerful as America. We should take precautions to make sure the same thing does not happen to Malaysia.

“It is often said that money is the root of evil, but now, we can also easily say that enjoying the luxury of credit is the root of bankruptcy.”

RM24b not small money

IS RM24.4 billion big money? This is the amount of credit card debt owed by Malaysians, according to Bank Negara Malaysia’s statistics as at end of March 2009, reported by Bernama last week.

The report, however, stated that the credit card debt in the country has not yet reached a critical level, according to the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK). This is because up to that period, loans via credit card accounted for only 6.1 per cent of the total financing by banking institutions.

However, Malay Mail took a closer look at how much RM24.4 billion is worth by looking at the country’s 2009 budget allocation, and we find that RM24.4 billion is certainly worth “something”.

The budget allocation for 2009 stood at RM207.9 billion. Out of this amount, RM7.6 billion was allocated for transport, RM3.2 billion for public utilities, RM17.8 billion for social services (including education and health), RM7.3 billion for pensions and gratuities, RM4.1 billion for security, RM33.8 billion on subsidies, RM 27.7 billion on economic services and RM13.5 billion for debt service charges.

So, in comparison, it is quite evident that the RM24.4 billion is not an insignificant amount.

Desalination in the Gulf - is now A THREAT

If you live in this part of the world, you have to survive on desalinated water from the sea. There is no river here. There is a creek in Dubai, like river but from the sea to the inland. It is seawater.

With the increasing consumption as well as lots of wastage, the sea water desalination has impact on the environment as well as 'hairs', lots of men have become bald due to the hard water...

Desalination: Facts and procedures

1. What is desalination and brine?

The overall procedure of sea water desalination is similar in most cases. Seawater is pumped into the plant and pre-treated to meet water quality requirements. The pre-treated water enters the
desalination unit and is divided into a highly pure product (drinking water) and waste water, commonly called brine. This by-product of the desalination process is concentrated salt water containing a mixture of chemicals used during plant operation and is pumped back into the sea.

2. Desalination technologies:

More than 90 per cent of all desalinated water in the Gulf comes from thermal desalination. Large plants use steam from power plant turbines as a heat source for desalination. Thermal processes use heat to evaporate water, leaving the salt behind in the brine. More than 80 per cent of desalinated water comes from Multi Stage Flash (MSF). Membrane processes use pressure or electricity to force water through a semipermeable membrane which blocks salts and other dissolved solids. The membrane technology is Reverse Osmosis (RO) which accounts for 6 per cent of the production.

3. Daily discharge loads into the Arabian

Gulf from desalination plants in the region:

23.7 tons — chlorine
64.9 tons — antiscalants
300 kilograms — copper

4. Arabian Gulf main producers of desalinated seawater:

Saudi Arabia — 25 per cent of the worldwide seawater desalination capacity, of which 11 per cent is in the Gulf, 12 per cent is in the Red Sea, and 2 per cent is unaccounted for.

United Arab Emirates — 23 per cent

Kuwait — 6 per cent.

5. Impact: The concentrations of different pre-treatment chemicals in Multi Stage Flash and Reverse Osmosis effluents are critical for the marine environment.

$40b desalination projects planned to boost production

Dubai: The two biggest emirates in the country have "significant" future desalination production investments pegged at up to $40 billion (Dh146.8 billion) to "produce a river of water" and meet increasing water demand, a leading desalination expert has said.

Abu Dhabi plans to double its current daily production of 630 million gallons at a cost of $20 billion, while Dubai will increase current production by 600 million gallons a day, at a cost of between $10 billion and $20 billion over the next decade, said Leon Awerbuch, past president of the International Desalination Association



The salinity of desalination effluents can highly exceed the natural ocean levels which can affect open water organisms and seabed dwellers. While some species have adapted to the natural salinity variations, high local salinity levels around the discharge location, especially for Reverse Osmosis plants, clearly exceed natural levels and pose a threat for a variety of species.


It has been recorded that Multi Stage Flash plants generate high thermal emissions and discharge brine at a maximum of 10-15C above ambient seawater even after being diluted with cooling water. The discharge is likely to float on the surface of the water because of the high temperature. Increased temperatures reduce the oxygen solubility in water. Significant decreases in oxygen levels can be toxic for species.

Temperature change is generally a minor problem in hot regions where large annual temperature variations are a natural phenomenon, but significant long-term alterations can be harmful
and result in the death of organisms.


The most commonly used “anti-fouling” additive, chlorine, is a broad-effect agent and can have equally broad impact on marine organisms.

The photosynthesis process of plankton can be seriously reduced at concentrations of only 20 micrograms per litre. At levels of 50 micrograms per litre the composition of marine organisms can change and their variety is reduced. The known lethal values for fish species range between 20 and several hundred micrograms per litre.


The long terms effects of copper in the sediment are a major concern. Copper compounds tend to settle down and accumulate in the sediments.

They can be absorbed by benthic (seabed) organisms and even be transferred into the food chain eventually. The tolerance towards copper pollution is not yet entirely known for all species.
Copper can be toxic at higher concentrations and reduce growth and reproduction.

Antiscaling additives

Antiscaling agents can cause eutrophication — an increase in algae growth which deteriorates water quality. Degradability is moderate to poor with unknown side effects.

6. Can you live on 25 litres a day?

The minimum amount of water required to sustain human life is 25 litres per day, a reasonable supply to maintain health may be 100-200 litres per day per
capita, although in developed/industrial countries, domestic use can exceed 300-400 litres a day. In the UAE, daily water uses is rated at 550 litres on average. There are few alternatives to desalination for water-stressed countries, however it has led, in some instances, to wasteful use. The Arab Environment:

Future Challenges report cautions against mushrooming golf courses, which will double in a few years to 40 in GCC countries. It says that each course consumes about 1.3 million cubic metres annually, enough to cover the water needs of 15,000 people.

Compiled Emmanuelle Landais, Staff Reporter