In recent months, the Saudi authorities have arrested a number of members of the Al-Hawitat tribe, which has lived in the region for hundreds of years, for refusing to sell the land of their parents and grandparents to the Saudi government to build its mega project, according to a newspaper The Independent.
The Saudi crown prince is seeking to build a global technology city in the Neom region at a cost of up to $ 500 billion to attract foreign investment to the Kingdom and diversify the economy to stop the historic dependence on oil. It is planned to be located in the northwest of the country to overlook the Red Sea, and will include flying taxis. For mobility and robots to handle manual labor, authorities said.
The NEOM project is part of the economic and social reform plan called “Vision 2030” that Mohammed bin Salman proposed in 2016, and includes plans for NEOM, the adoption of a special judicial system that does not reflect the system followed in the rest of the Kingdom’s regions, and it is expected that the new city will resemble a city. Dubai UAE nearby.
“When they launched NEOM at the beginning of 2016, Mohammed bin Salman promised them to be a part of it and to participate in the development and improvement of the area,” said Alia Al-Huwaiti, a London activist and spokesperson for the tribe, adding, “But in 2020, they were forced to leave their lands. When you open your mouth or say something on social media, you disappear from the face of the earth. ”
She indicated that, last week, two members of the tribe were arrested, one of whom was taken from the university, in an attempt to silence and intimidate their families.
The tribe members called on the United Nations to investigate their plight, arguing that what Saudi Arabia is doing amounts to “the extermination of an indigenous people.”
Despite the slowdown in project construction due to the global economic collapse, the Saudi authorities continue to expel members of the tribe from their lands, which include 13 villages along the Red Sea.
The security forces killed a member of the tribe named Abdul Rahim Al-Huwaiti, after he refused the forced displacement from his home, and the authorities said at the time that it was he who initiated the shooting at her, but activists rejected this story, because of the videos Al-Huwaiti published before his killing, and in which he declared his rejection of the displacement .
“Originally, the tribe was promised to compensate it for the project, through jobs and benefits,” Al-Huwaiti said. “But at some point, the authorities changed their minds and chose instead to hunt down the tribe, adding,” Neom is built on our bones and blood. ”
The Neom Company announced in previous statements that 20,000 people would have to leave and move to another place in order to make room for construction work. The first part of the city is to be completed by 2023.
In response to these accusations, a member of the advisory council to Neum told the newspaper that no one was expelled or displaced from his land by violence.
“The kingdom has a history of taking the land from everyone to build the state. The government has always compensated people at prices higher than the market,” added Ali al-Shihabi, a Saudi political analyst and board member of NEOM.
He stated that the authorities are offering people new housing anywhere they want in the kingdom, citing other alleged benefits, including 1,000 scholarships abroad.
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