New survey: Poverty exists in many parts of Saudi Arabia
Despite the fact that Saudi oil reserves are the largest in the world and Saudi Arabia is the world's leading oil producer and exporter, poverty exists in many parts of it, often as a result of unemployment. A nationwide survey, which was conducted by Prince Abdullah Foundation for Housing and whose results were published in Al-Watan daily on Monday, revealed also a growing crime rate in some parts of the kingdom, especially in Al-Laith and Yalamlem (south of Jeddah).
Stealing sheep is rampant in Adham and Jaiza, villages of Al-Laith, while Yalamlem is notorious for drug-related crimes.
Officials who conducted the survey blamed unemployment and inadequate social security allowances for the poverty. The officials noted a lack of infrastructure utility services - such as electricity, water, schools and roads - in Asfan near Jeddah. They said the same problems existed in Al-Laith. Thoul, a village not far from Jeddah, suffers from a dearth of agricultural production and many residents want to migrate to cities, the survey showed. Despite its large industrial zone, many people in Yanbu suffer from unemployment and poverty, the survey said.
According to Arab News, the survey found that poverty was rampant in bedouin areas of Al-Baha which lacks roads linking many of its villages. Most of the poor in the Asir region live in the coastal areas and the eastern part of the region.
Unemployment is also a big problem in the poor neighborhoods of Al-Ahsa and Qateef in the Eastern Province. The survey noted an increase in hereditary diseases in the two cities because of marriage between relatives.
The Saudi government has launched a major campaign to eradicate poverty. Crown Prince Abdullah called for a national strategy to eliminate poverty after a surprise visit to a poor area in Riyadh in November 2002. The government later established a fund to combat poverty which intends to turn the poor into productive citizens, rather than keeping them dependent upon society.