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Saudi Gazette, Saturday, March 25, 2017

Kingdom

inhigh/low °C

Today

Tomorrow

Sunday

Riyadh

38

/30

38

/28

35

/27

Makkah

37

/27

33

/30

32

/28

Madinah

40

/32

39

/32

39

/31

Jeddah

42

/28

39

/26

39

/29

Dammam

35

/31

37

/31

35

/31

Abha

24

/18

22

/17

22

/17

Baha

39

/27

41

/27

43

/28

Tabuk

28

/17

31

/18

35

/20

Jazan

30

/21

39

/33

40

/33

Taif

33

/20

31

/23

30

/22

Yanbu

39

/28

42

/31

41

/31

WEATHER FORECAST

IN BRIEF

N

E

W

S

Makkah

Madinah

Riyadh

Dammam

Abha

Tabuk

Hail

Jazan

Najran

4:58

4:55

4:27

4:11

4:50

5:03

4:44

4:51

4:44

6:14

6:14

5:46

5:31

6:05

6:25

6:04

6:05

5:58

12:25

12:26

11:58

11:44

12:15

12:38

12:18

12:14

12:08

3:51

3:54

3:26

3:14

3:37

4:09

3:48

3:35

3:29

6:36

6:38

6:10

5:57

6:24

6:52

6:31

6:23

6:17

8:06

8:08

7:40

7:27

7:54

8:22

8:01

7:53

7:47

PRAYER TIME

CITY

FAJR SUNRISE DHUHR

ASR MAGHREB ISHA

Caretakers in a fix

By Irfan Mohammed

Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH —

Expatriate building care-

takers who doubled as car washers

in their respective neighborhoods

have been earning a handsome in-

come benefiting from their flexible

work environment. However, many

of them are currently going through

tough times with the safe turf they

have enjoyed for decades starting to

thin out slowly.

Most these watchmen, hailing

from south Asian or Arab African

countries and known by the title

“haris” in local dialect, hitherto

merely performed the basic du-

ties of their primary job and then

looked for additional income by

washing cars in their vicinity. In

fact, they only gave secondary im-

portance to guarding the buildings

in their care and the tenants they

were supposed to serve.

In view of the high costs and

time-consuming visits to the regular

car washes, most people, includ-

ing citizens, prefer to get their cars

washed by their building watchmen

who render the service for a nomi-

nal monthly fee.

Considering the income they

make by washing cars and doing

other odd jobs, the building owners

pay them very meager or no month-

ly salaries. “In fact, our salaries are

the lowest for any category of work-

ers but we complement our income

by doing odd jobs or washing cars

in the wee hours of night,” said one

Asian watchman who did not want

to be named.

These people, whose services

have become indispensable in every

Saudi neighborhood, nevertheless

see tough times ahead.

In addition to the threat of a

shrinking client base due to the

impending departure of a large

number of expatriate workers in the

face of the ongoing uncertainty in

the job market, the law enforcement

agencies are intensifying inspec-

tions against car cleaners in the

streets. This has jeopardized the

building caretakers’ main source of

income.

These watchmen are worried

about their income falling further as

many expatriates are likely to send

their families back home because

the cost of keeping them in the

Kingdom is likely to rise exorbi-

tantly with the government impos-

ing a new levy on every member of

the family, starting July. Once the

families leave, the tenants are less

likely to require their services for

which they used to receive hand-

some handouts.

The frequent police checks also

give the caretakers sleepless nights.

In the past, raids by the authori-

ties mainly targeted professional

car washers, mostly illegal African

immigrants, on major streets and

roads while the building guards who

doubled as car washers were largely

ignored or went undetected.

“A small percentage of apart-

ments in my building are vacant,

which is not a major problem. I can

make up for the loss by requesting

the tenants to increase my reward

by 10 percent,” said Abdullah Khan,

a Pakistani watchman in Madain

Fahad in south Jeddah.

He said though the less number

of tenants gave him time to relax a

bit with the reduced workload, it

would definitely make a dent in his

income from washing cars.

“The departure of a few expatri-

ates has not really affected me. I

have a fairly good number of Saudi

clients but washing their cars has

now become a challenging task,”

said Imtiaz Khan, a Pakistani watch-

man in Safa district.

“Police stopped me twice this

month and they asked for the

registration documents of the car

I was washing to ascertain that it

belonged to my employer,” he said.

The Saudi law prohibits expatri-

ates from seeking work with anyone

other than their legal employer.

Noor Mian, a Bangladeshi

watchman in Zahra district, said

vacant apartments and frequent

police checks have greatly affected

his income.

Officials, on the other hand,

believe the casual car wash in the

streets distorts the city’s beautiful

image and poses a hazard to the

environment. It leads to improper

littering on the roads, parks and

other public places. The regulations

also prohibit the discharge of waste-

water on to the streets.

Some car cleaners were also

detained by the authorities in the

past for their involvement in crimi-

nal activities. An Asian car washer

was charged with money laundering

after he was caught with millions of

riyals in his possession.

Empty flats, frequent police checks

create a deep dent in income

In view of the high

costs and time-

consuming visits

to the regular car

washes, most people,

including citizens,

prefer to get their

cars washed by their

building watchmen

who render the

service for a nominal

monthly fee.

s

s

RIYADH

Houthi missile kills Border Guard soldier

A Saudi soldier was killed by a missile fired by the Houthi militias

in Yemen, the Interior Ministry said on Friday. The missile was

launched late Thursday from a rebel-controlled area in Yemen and

hit a military base in Dhahran Al-Janoub, killing border guard Atallah

Yassine Al-Anzi, according to a ministry statement carried by the

Saudi Press Agency. Earlier, a toddler was killed when a projectile

launched by the militia from Yemen territories hit a residential area

in Najran, SPA said. The deputy spokesman for the Civil Defense

Directorate said the victim’s 5-year-old brother and his father were

injured in the attack that targeted the Sakam neighborhood in

Najran. Saudi Arabia air defense forces intercepted a rebel missile

earlier this month near Dhahran Al-Janoub. A missile attack on the

area last month killed a policeman.

RIYADH

Levy on white land from next week

The Ministry of Housing will issue at the beginning of next week the

first tax bills for unused land in Riyadh city in the first stage of a

move to levy tax on all undeveloped plots of land in urban areas.

Supervisor General of the Program for Fees on Undeveloped Land

Muhammad Bin Ahmed Al-Mudaiheem said all plots with an area

of at least 10,000 sq. meters would be taxed. He said work on

preparing the tax bills had already started. After Riyadh, the program

will be expanded to Jeddah and then Dammam, Al-Mudaiheem said.

The owners will have to pay 2.5 percent levy annually on plots left

unused in the urban areas, he added.

JEDDAH

New airport to start test run in 2018

Construction work on the new King Abdulaziz International Airport

(KAIA) in Jeddah will completed before the end of this year and

experimental operations will be carried out in the first half of 2018,

Al-Watan newspaper reported quoting sources from the General

Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA). The airport will have a large

commercial area, including a four-star hotel with 120 rooms for

the use of passengers. Airline companies will rent the rooms on

an hourly basis. The airport will have 63 gates for departures and

54 gates for arrivals. The passenger lounges will have a total area

of 800,000 sq. meters. The airport will also have 16 transit desks,

80 self-service counters, 56 check-in counters and 73 immigration

counters. Minister of Transport and GACA Chairman Sulaiman

Al-Hamdan on Thursday handed over KAIA’s relicensing certificate

to Tariq Bin Othman Al-Abdujabbar, assistant chairman of GACA, in

the presence of the airport’s Director General Abdullah Bin Mas’ad

Al-Reemi. International airports are subject to standards and criteria

set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the

licenses are renewed annually. Al-Abduljabbar lauded the decision

by the GACA Board of Directors to upgrade all Saudi airports that

receive flights from abroad to international airports. The decision will

raise the number of international airports in the Kingdom to 14.

JEDDAH

Hanging garden coming in Al-Balad

The Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah will soon have its first hanging

garden, according to the city’s mayor Hani Aburas. He said the

garden would be established on an area of 9,500 sq. meters behind

the building of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) in

the historic Al-Balad district. The garden will be part of a car park

building, which the mayor inaugurated on Wednesday. The car park

has space to accommodate more than 1,200 vehicles.

AMMAN

Saudi clinics treat 2,704 Syrian refugees

Saudi specialized clinics provided medical treatment to 2,704 Syrian

refugees at Zaatari camp in Jordan for 220th week. In a statement to

Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Dr. Bader Al-Samhan, regional director of

the Saudi national campaign, said the campaign seeks to provide all

necessary services to the displaced Syrians.

— Okaz/Saudi Gazette