MAKKAH — The society of residential district centers in Makkah has decided to allow expatriates to participate for the first time ever in the elections of 260 candidates for 17 voluntary neighborhood councils in the holy city.
A society official told Makkah daily on Monday that the election by-laws have been amended to ensure the participation of three expatriate residents.
Abdullah Al-Zahrani, assistant secretary general of the society, said as a first step the expatriates would be made members of the general assembly of each district center, allowing them to cast their votes in the elections.
He said participation of the expatriates in the elections for these district councils would ensure the neighborhoods with better services in all fields.
Al-Zahrani said changes were made so all residents could be involved in the election process. “Participation of the expatriates is a guarantee that consummate services will be provided to all residents regardless of nationality,” the society official said.
Al-Zahrani said an electronic balloting system would enable both Saudis and expatriates to cast their votes from their homes.
“Through this mechanism, which is meant to make the elections an easy process, we will ensure the participation of a large number of residents,” Al-Zahrani added.
Ali Bakr Hawsawi, chairman of Al-Rusaifah district center, said work in the district centers was voluntary and aimed to provide civic services to residential areas.
He said: “The culture of voluntary work in Makkah in particular and in the Kingdom in general is weak.
“This is a source of great worry for us because throughout the history Makkah has been serving the pilgrims and visitors.”
Hamid Al-Issa, chairman of the voluntary teams in Makkah, said government departments alone cannot provide all the services required by residents so volunteers have to help out.