[Re]covering Jeddah’s Wadis – Building the City’s Resilience through Green Infrastructure

  •  Hanaa Motasim    


Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s largest coastal city, is positioned between two prominent natural features: the mountain range on its eastern side and the Red Sea on its west. The city faces many challenges central to which is storm water drainage. The natural drainage of the city through its pre-existing wadis, bringing down the rain water from the steep mountain ranges through the low inclining coastal plane and into the sea, has been interrupted in the last few decades by massive road infrastructural projects cutting through the city and interrupting the natural flow. The outcome of these interventions has been excessive flooding calamities, of which the ones in 2009 and 2011 were the most extreme, causing severe damage to infrastructure, property and lives.

In light of climate change the intensity of flash floods is expected to increase, placing enormous stress on the city. To control the floods the city has pushed forward heavily engineered solutions, canalizing the rich network of wadis, almost 80 in number, into 4 major concrete channels that discharge the rain water accumulated in the mountains directly into the sea. This solution, which has been prohibitive in cost, has robbed the city of any potential of utilizing the precious supply of rain water. This paper explores the potential of recovering Jeddah’s wadis and creating green corridors across the city. As opposed to engineered solutions which address singular problematics, green infrastructures could provide numerous benefits to the city and the region as a whole.

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