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Last Updated: Friday, 10 December, 2004, 12:06 GMT
Do you feel safe in Saudi Arabia?
Heavily secured US consulate in Jeddah
Saudi Arabian authorities have condemned the attack on a US consulate and pledged to "fight terrorism in all its aspects".

Militants set off a car bomb outside the consulate in Jeddah on Monday and then stormed into the building, killing five consulate employees.

Saudi Arabia has been shaken by a series of bloody attacks against its citizens and expatriate workers in the last 18 months. Around 170 people have been killed since the first attack in Riyadh in May last year.

Do you live or work in Saudi? Are you an ex-pat? Do you feel safe in Saudi or will you now try to leave? How effectively is the government tackling terrorist attacks? Send us your comments and experiences.

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


Your comments:

Any expat still there has to wonder if any place is safe
Dave, Lynden, USA
I left KSA last year anticipating more violence. Any expat still there has to wonder if any place is safe. Compounds have been secured but not to the extent of the US embassy and consulates. If the terrorists have been able to infiltrate these hard targets, what is to stop them from softer ones? My advice to my friends, get out while you can.
Dave, Lynden, USA

The US consulate in Jeddah should have been moved to a more secure location years ago. It is surrounded by major streets and very vulnerable to car bombs and projectile attacks such as mortars. It should be in an area with an extensive surrounding area in which vehicles can not enter.
Larry, Manama, Bahrain

The Saudis are not very happy with their royalty who care only for themselves. My assessment and prediction is that this situation will become more critical if their king does not change his policy of governing the kingdom.
Kamarudin, Malaysia

I am a British woman who has been here for seven years in Jeddah. The first two to three years I felt safer here than in England, but now you are afraid to go out and when you do you are always looking over your shoulder. I can't sleep at night and every little noise I hear disturbs me.
Rosemary, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

I'm originally from Europe, but I feel safer here than in London, New York, or LA.
John, Mecca, SA

I have never worked in a country where I felt more unwelcome
Anon, Jeddah
When my contract is up I will leave with no regrets. I have never worked in a country where I felt more unwelcome and I am barely tolerated. The terrorists have a great deal of public support because the government is so out of touch. I can't see the current government lasting a year.
Anon, Jeddah

This situation will never be dealt with whilst there is an out-of-control population explosion which resulting in millions of unemployed, disaffected, underprivileged teenagers who listen to fundamentalists preaching terrorism and martyrdom every day.
Anon

I was in Saudi Arabia in 2000. As a woman I didn't feel safe there, mainly due to the Saudi's themselves. Terrorism won't stop me from travelling where I want to, or where I have to. Regime's such as the one in Saudi will however.
Jennifer Hynes, Plymouth, UK

The loss of innocent life at the hands of terrorists is always a shock and a tragedy. As expats, we continue to keep a low profile and try to ride out periods of flare-ups. It's still a relatively safe place - we're convinced that the Saudi government is doing all it can to root out the fanatics while maintaining stability.
Mark, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

It's not so straightforward to evacuate people or bring in reinforcements either
Ali, Jeddah, KSA
The very location of the embassy makes it virtually impossible to completely secure it. The main gate is on a very busy road and cars pass within 10 feet of it and naturally stop by it when the traffic light is red, usually for long periods if there is a traffic jam. Because of the volume of traffic, it's not so straightforward to evacuate people or bring in reinforcements either. The embassy will have to be moved to a more easily accessed and secure location.
Ali, Jeddah, KSA

My children attend the British Grammar School in Dhahran, which is situated within the US Consulate compound. I have always rationalised their safety at school by the fact that they are within one of the most secure compounds in the kingdom. Yesterday's events in Jeddah remind us all that in the face of determined terrorists, nowhere can be considered entirely safe, and begs many of us to reconsider our time in Saudi.
George, Dhahran Saudi Arabia.

I really feel sorry for the families of those who have been killed.... Poor innocent people are the targets of these corrupt minded people. I am worried deeply about my fellow citizens who are doing nothing but working hard in order to feed their families..
Maria Britto, London, UK

It all happened so suddenly nobody seemed to have any clue about what was happening
Mathew, Jeddah, KSA
I was on my way to pick up my son from a location very near to the embassy, when the incident occurred. It all happened so suddenly nobody seemed to have any clue about what was happening. First it was the fire engines, then the police cars and I thought some building had caught fire. However, when I reached more closer there were cops everywhere with guns drawn trying to divert the traffic, and I could see black smoke rising from somewhere near the embassy. It was absolute chaos and the cops were trying their best to control the traffic since it happened during a busy hour.
Mathew, Jeddah, KSA

My office is very close to the US Consulate. As soon as we heard the police sirens, fire fighters speeding toward the vicinity, we rushed to the site. The first view of the huge fire coming out from the west side was totally shocking. Within a few minutes there were a series of gun shots in the air that forced the crowd to retreat forcibly causing a huge stampede all around. Soon, more cops moved in and a helicopter started hovering around the circumference of the consulate at an altitude of about 1000 feet.
Salman, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

I myself am a witness to this act of violence, my office is located very near the consulate. We have been witnessing such acts happening in the Central and the Eastern parts of Saudi Arabia ever since the first Gulf war but being an old resident of the beautiful city of Jeddah, I can feel that the Nation of Muslims is reaching a melt-down.
Ghadanfar Al Muqri, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Clouds of thick black smoke filled the sky
Wiz , Jeddah

I work right opposite, the embassy. Our windows were shattered from the explosion, as I opened the window to see what had happened. Clouds of thick black smoke filled the sky. Screams could be heard in the distance as people rushed away from the scene. Sounds of semi-automatic gun fire echoed all around us.
Wiz , Jeddah

Americans have only themselves to blame for these acts, they have fuelled the hatred and to be honest I am surprised that these acts are few and far between.
Naeem, London, UK

The sooner the West comes up with an alternative source of energy the better. The only reason the region has any money at all is the West's addiction to oil. The sooner we leave the Middle East to itself and start focusing our help on regions that appreciate Western values of democracy and tolerance the better.
Craig, London - Ex New Zealand

I teach in Jeddah. The husband of one my colleagues telephoned her, very upset because their children attend a school adjacent to the Consulate. There were police and soldiers everywhere, helicopters overhead, and they could hear gunfire. Panic-stricken fathers were trying to get to the school, to pick up their children, but the streets were blocked by emergency vehicles.
Anne, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

It is early evening, and major roadblocks are still in place. Sirens are still blaring around the city, the public have been urged to maintain a level of vigilance.
Sajid Saleh Hafesjee, Jeddah, KSA

This was just waiting to happen
Ray Fowler, Harpenden UK

This was just waiting to happen. I recently returned from Jeddah (after working there for 6 months) and used to travel past the consulate each day to work. Although there were noticeable signs of added protection the guards were always quite sloppy with guns left propped against the walls of the perimeter and sometimes the barrier was left up. We used to say that anyone could get through into the compound. The protection at my hotel was more visible and tighter.
Ray Fowler, Harpenden UK

I have been working here in Jeddah since April this year. On the surface, certain premises appear to be heavily guarded. However, I would agree with the comments of Ray from the UK that "the Saudi guards are quite sloppy". They not very alert, it is no wonder that the terrorists find it so easy to attack premises in Saudi. For a few days now after this attack, the guards on compounds etc will be a little more alert and will check people and vehicles entering compounds.
Ian, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

I am working near the US Consulate in Jeddah. From my office I saw a lot of smoke coming out from the Consulate area. Some Helicopters are patrolling the area. I can hear the shooting from my place.
Abdalah Yousif, Jeddah

All the roads in the nearby 10 km area are blocked and everywhere police presence is visible. Now at 14:00 Saudi time we can see that the smoked has reduced. Latest phone call to an onlooker says that US military people have taken over from Saudi forces.
Jose, Jeddah, KSA

All the roads leading the consulate are sealed
Y. Omar, Jeddah

My Office is near the American Consulate, all the roads leading the consulate are sealed. The National Guards are securing the area and not allowing civilians to get out of their buildings to minimize the number of casualties; in case any gunmen are still on the run.
Y. Omar, Jeddah

I am 4 km from the embassy, and all I can see are traffic jams in all directions going towards the embassy. My friends working in the superstores near the embassy said gunshots are still going on. We are all praying for the hostages, and wish that this nightmare ends.
Imran, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

They say on TV that no parking or stopping is permitted outside the Jeddah U.S. Embassy Gates. This is not strictly true, I was in a car passing by the main gates on Saturday morning and because of the traffic lights being at red, was sitting there exactly outside the main gate, stopped and within 10 feet of the armoured car and Entrance Door for several minutes without interference whatsoever just watching the queue of people waiting to be admitted.
John Grinham, Weston super Mare, UK

Our office is very near in the consulate proximity. It seems that operation to secure the area still going on. The whole area with a radius of 1-3km was sealed off. Helicopters continue to hover in the vicinity and sporadic gunfire was heard from time to time. Saudi security forces seems to be in control outside the consulate although traffic chaos to and from the area is abound everywhere. Time 2:00pm Saudi time.
Carl Obtinalla, Jeddah, KSA

I am amazed that anyone was able to get in
Robert M. Woodruff, Jeddah, KSA

Our compound is on the same street and less than a mile from the consulate. My wife's shopping bus was diverted and the ladies had to walk the last half mile. They could see the smoke and even hear gunshots. I drive past the consulate every day and go in once a week for my mail. The security is very tight. Heavily armed guards are posted around the compound, both inside and outside the perimeter walls. There is an armoured car with a machine gun turret at the main entrance and several outlying machine gun posts. I am amazed that anyone was able to get in, much less live to take hostages. One has to wonder about an inside connection.
Robert M. Woodruff, Jeddah, KSA

From here we can see smoke rising and Chinook helicopters patrolling the area of the US Consulate. A message from the British Consulate tells us that the situation is 'stabilising'. We are unable to get up to date information as the area around us is sealed off by police.
Terry Blakey, Jeddah

I live near the Embassy and work not far from it. Smoke could be seen rising from the compound. All the major roads, Malik Road and the like have been closed.
Ben Abu Ismail, Jeddah

It was terrible! Folks are on the ground and you can see heavy smoke outside the consulate. Insurgents opened fire onto police. There were a lot of bystanders in the area. It was an horrific incident.
Joshua Pollard, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

The security in the Jeddah Consulate is so tight
Saud, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

I just received a call from my friend about this news, then I logged on to the net to reach for the detailed news. It is very sad that, it is happening in Saudi again. The security in the Jeddah Consulate is so tight, it is virtually impossible for anyone to reach the area easily.
Saud, Jeddah, City, Saudi Arabia

My office is about half a kilometre from the US Consulate. Shots have been fired, very heavy security operation underway, large plumes of smoke are clearly visible from my office window, although, strangely, we did not hear an explosion although we can hear shots still being fired. Helicopters are overhead and we hear that hostages have been taken inside. Clearly, a well-planned operation as the US Consulate is very heavily fortified.
David Evans, Jeddah KSA

I live about 1 1/2 kilometres from the consulate. At about 12 noon Jeddah time I saw smoke rising from the area where the consulate situated. There is still chaos in the city. Traffic is diverted and a helicopter is hovering above the area. There are also police sirens in the distance.
Gamini Fernando, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

We went on top of our office to see the situation
Must, Jeddah

We went on top of our office to see the situation after we were informed about the incident. We could see huge smoke coming out of the premises. More over we could also hear the gun shots until a while ago.
Must, Jeddah

I am working in a Company very close to American Consulate in Jeddah. I went up to the terrace of the building to watch what was happening. I saw a thick smoke billowing from the consulate. All the roads around the consulate are blocked now and security is tightened.
Nazer Melethil, Jeddah




SEE ALSO:
Hostages held at US Saudi mission
06 Dec 04 |  Middle East
Saudi policeman dies in shoot-out
17 Nov 04 |  Middle East
Saudi Arabia: Political overview
07 Jun 04 |  Middle East
Timeline: Saudi Arabia
12 Aug 04 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Saudi Arabia
12 Aug 04 |  Country profiles


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