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Saudi Forces Ordered to Use Lethal Force to Clear Land for Neom City: Report

May 9, 2024

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have permitted the use of lethal force to clear land for Neom, a $500 billion smart city project planned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). The BBC spoke to Colonel Rabih Alenezi, a former intelligence officer, who said he was ordered to evict villagers to make way for The Line, part of Neom. The outlet also said that one person was shot and killed for protesting against eviction. Neom is part of Saudi Vision 2030.

The Saudi government and Neom management have refused to comment.

The Line is being pitched as a car free city, just 200 metres wide and 170 kilometres long. Till now, only 2.4 kilometre of the project is expected to be completed by 2030, as per the BBC.

According to official government figures, more than 6,000 people have been moved for the project, though UK-based human rights group ALQST estimates the number to be higher.

The BBC shared satellite data claiming that three villages – al-Khuraybah, Sharma and Gayal – were demolished for the project. These villages were inhabited by the Huwaitat tribe, which has been dubbed a group of “rebels” by the government order, said Col Alenezi.

“Neom is the centrepiece of Mohamed Bin Salman’s ideas. That’s why he was so brutal in dealing with the Huwaitat,” he told the outlet. He now lives in the UK foe his own safety.

The futuristic megacity is touted to be 33 times the size of New York, with an area of 26,500 km square extending along the Aqaba Gulf and Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coastline. The name Neom is a combination of Greek term Neo and Arabic word for “future”.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said in 2022 that MBS has ordered workers to construct 10 palaces, each bigger than a football field. The outlet reviewed the project’s plan, which showed that the houses could list at up to $400 million each.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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