When the rain came at dawn, Aamir Farouk was prepared for the worst. He set off in his red jeep to join a volunteer rescue effort, knowing that Jeddah could soon be underwater. He was right: 15 minutes from home, he found about a dozen cars already stranded by the rising flood.

Saudi Arabia may be under new management, but the scene in its second-biggest city was a familiar one. Jeddah was battered by floods in 2009 and 2011, killing more than 100 people. Saudis blamed corruption and shoddy infrastructure: Billions of riyals were spent; somehow it failed to buy a decent drainage system.

The Nov. 21 repeat left them wondering how much has changed now that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is in charge. There were at least three deaths. Farouk, 28, said he spent all day towing people to safety. As the storm passed, and frustrated residents waded or canoed through…

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