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Saudi steps up harassment of tribespeople in effort to clear way for Neom

Neom megacity project

Saudi Arabia is continuing in its attempts to silence critics of its plans to displace tens of thousands of tribespeople from their land to make way for its Neom megacity project.

Over the past month, Saudi forces have detained two more members of the Huwaitat tribe, according to the Huwaitat spokesperson. The detentions occurred on Thursday, 1 October, and included the arrest of one Huwaitat member while at university.

Neom megacity project

Saudi Arabia has been trying to displace some 20,000 members of the Huwaitat tribe in order to build the $500bn Neom megacity on their land. Earlier this year, one member of the tribe, Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti, was gunned down by Saudi forces in his home after campaigning against the displacement.

Spokesperson Alya Alhwaiti told the Independent: “When they started Neom in the beginning of 2016, Mohammed bin Salman promised them to be part of it and share in the development and improvement of the area.

“But in 2020, they are forced to leave their land without places to stay. And the minute you open your mouth or say something on social media, you disappear from the face of the earth.”

Alhwaiti, who is now based in London, said she has received death threats for advocating for the tribe, as well as threats to gouge her eyes and douse her in acid.

“The crown prince is forcing people to move, and terrifying and scaring them to move,” Alhwaiti told the Independent.

Saudi Arabia is infamous for its lack of human rights and brutality towards all those who speak out against the rule of de facto ruler crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

If Neom is to be built, we demand that the Huwaitat are allowed to stay on their land, undisturbed. They should be permitted to benefit from the project, enjoying the economic benefits brought by Neom.

Unless that is the case, we urge all potential international partners, sponsors and investors to boycott Neom.

We also urge all human rights campaigners to take up the challenge of exposing the bloody truth about the project.

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