• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
businessday logo


Saudi forces ordered to kill people blocking $50billion development

Saudi Arabia

Saudi forces have allegedly been ordered to kill people as they clear the way for a $500 billion development.

The Line eco-city is being built in a scheme expected to give a boost to the country’s economy.

The plan is part of its Saudi Vision 2030 strategy which aims to diversify the kingdom’s economy away from oil.

Its flagship project, The Line, will be a car-free city, just 200 metres wide and 170 kilometres long. However, only 2.4 kilometres of the project is expected to be completed by 2030.

A former intelligence officer has claimed he was told to use “lethal force” against any “rebels” who refused to quit their homes to make way for construction.

Colonel Rabih Alenezi told the BBC he was ordered to evict villagers from a tribe to make way for The Line, which includes a skyscraper at the centre of the development.

The scheme, which also includes a ski and adventure centre, is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud’s ambitious Neom project, aimed at boosting the country’s GDP.

The colonel claimed one of the villagers was shot and killed during the clearance mission for protesting against the evictions, the BBC reported.

Crown Prince Bin Salman previously described the area where Neom is being built as the perfect “blank canvas”.

The government has said that more than 6,000 people have been moved from their homes for the project.

Col Alenezi, who went into exile in the UK last year, told the BBC of a clearance order he was allegedly asked to enact for the village of Al-Khuraybah, located in Tabuk region, 4.5km south of The Line.

An April 2020 order allegedly stated the Huwaitat tribe, which had lived in the Tabuk for generations, was made up of “many rebels” and “whoever continues to resist [eviction] should be killed, so it licensed the use of lethal force against whoever stayed in their home,” he claimed.

He said he declined the mission on medical grounds but it went ahead.

Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti was shot dead by Saudi authorities a day after he refused to allow a land registry committee to value his property, the BBC has reported.

A statement issued by Saudi state security at the time alleged al-Huwaiti had opened fire on security forces and they had been forced to retaliate. Human rights organisations and the UN have said he was killed simply for resisting eviction, according to the BBC.

The project is 100,000 construction workers who must be accommodated in the desert as the work continues.

The Saudi government has said that those ordered to move are given fair compensation.