The unusually cold winter in Saudi Arabia this year has had tragic consequences, with some of the more vulnerable passing away. These events have stirred anger in wide sections of Saudi society.
Mashaael is an ordinary girl. However, her tragic fate has caused a major controversy across Saudi Arabia. Indeed, the freezing weather that has plagued the desert Saudi kingdom took away the life of this teenager.
When Mashaael’s mother wanted to wake her daughter to go to school on January 12, she found her dead in her bed, according to the local press.
The family lives in a slum in the suburb of Arar, a city in the north of the city. Living conditions are tough. Electricity and water are a luxury for people who live on the edge of the major cities of the north.
This year, Saudi Arabia was hit by its harshest winter for over 20 years. The temperatures have plummeted down to freezing point in many areas, including Riyadh, the capital. And in northern regions, it was even snowing.
When the local press reported the death of this young girl, Saudis expressed their shock and anger that something like this could happen.
A columnist from the “al Waten” newspaper, Mohammed al Routayan, imagines what the young Mashaael would say; “For a long time, I dreamt of having a nice, warm blanket to protect myself from the cold, in a country that distributes them all over the world for nothing.”
Writer Jameel Faresi published an article in the “al Madina” newspaper, asking many questions; ”Is it the cold that killed her? No, the cold is just an excuse for allowing this tragic event to happen. It is us who killed her in abandoning a fellow citizen in a slum, in a country that produces ten million barrels of oil every day. All this in a land that distributes the wealth according to who you know, and not who is in need. We do not bother to find out how the people who have nothing are doing.”
He continues his line of questioning; “Mashaael, how come you die because of the cold? Do we die because of the cold? We travel to Switzerland to experience the sensation of cold!”
The fate of Mashaael mobilised the Saudi League of Human Rights. Indeed, in a press release, Sohayla Zain al Abidin, a member of the League, accused the ministry of Social Affaires of being responsible, since it neglected the situation of the less fortunate in these unseasonal conditions.
On the internet, many Saudi blogs are talking about poverty. This, in one of the richest countries in the world, thanks to its oil production.
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