No rest in rest houses

Talal Al-Gashgari


A CITIZEN recounted to me his bitter experience with some of the rest houses on the outskirts of Jeddah. He said the rent they charge for a day is as high as the Himalayas. The rent, according to him, may exceed SR2,000 per day during normal seasons and it is doubled during the Eid holidays, weekends and the school breaks.

For the owners of these rest houses, the day is not 24 hours, but only 20 hours. They own this unique patent of the shorter-than-normal day, for which they are being envied by the international astronomical societies and calendar makers, whether for Hijri or Gregorian dates.

The check-in time is set at 4 p.m. while the check-out is at 12 noon the next day. They do not allow one minute more for the occupants to collect their belongings and move out.

The owners of these rest houses are more strict than many of the upmarket hotels in the city, which allow some flexibility in the time for check-in and check-out.

The high prices or the short day are not the only issues facing people who rent the rest houses to spend their leisure time away from home with their families.

Contrary to the hotels, the rest houses are not properly maintained, repaired or cleaned. The citizens and their children may contract various diseases affecting their digestive and the respiratory systems from these shoddy places. They also experience eye problems after using the swimming pools, which are obviously not clean.

Mosquitoes breed in large numbers in the rest houses and they spread deadly diseases such as dengue fever and malaria. There are also other insects and rodents, which have obtained the Jeddawi nationality with merit and excellence.

After his first experience, the citizen vows never again to go to any rest house in Jeddah as long as he lived. He said the cost of the rent for three days will cover for him a week’s travel abroad including the air ticket and hotel accommodation.

I hereby ask the concerned authorities to treat the rest houses similar to the hotels and furnished apartments in respect of cleanliness, maintenance and affordable prices. Their day should be made 24 hours, instead of 20.

The rest houses, whether big or small, should be subjected to the rules and regulations governing the tourism and hospitality sector. To start with, they should classified with five, four or three stars based on the level of services provided. The prices they charge should be commensurate with their classification.

The rest houses should be inspected regularly by the concerned authorities. Officials from the commerce, tourism, health, environment and labor departments as well as the municipality should make surprise visits to them to ensure that they comply with the pertinent regulations.

Any rest house found to be violating the rules should be immediately punished according to the law and should be named in the media to caution the public.

The jobs of the supervisors and guards of the rest houses should be nationalized so that expatriates will not be left with the chance to tamper with the rules.

The concerned authorities should also put an end to the greediness of the owners who are only concerned with making profits regardless of whether the services they provide are of some quality or substandard.

These facilities should not be called rest houses any more because in fact there is no rest in them. They are extremely dangerous not only to the citizen’s pocket, but to his health and safety as well.

Finally I want to openly state that people wanting to rent any of the rest houses in the suburbs of Jeddah to find some rest should not expect to get it there.