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Saudi Arabia’s NEOM project sparks concern over human rights violations

Deutsche Welle reports that Saudi Arabia is forcing tribal people to relocate to make room for its $500 billion NEOM megacity, despite Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s promise to keep current inhabitants involved in the planning process. Individuals who do not comply risk harsh prison sentences or even death.

This comes after an OHCHR report detailing the displacement of Howeitat tribe members, whose homes have been demolished without fair compensation. The OHCHR also reports that one Howeitat tribe member has been killed, three others have been sentenced to death, and three more have been sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Jeed Basyouni, head of death penalty work in the Middle East at Reprieve, said “the glossy brochures don’t show that this is a city being built on forcible evictions, state violence and death sentences.” Though NEOM is painted as a cutting-edge nod to the future, for her, it represents the “gulf between Mohammed bin Salman’s professed ‘vision’ of Saudi Arabia and the repressive reality of his rule.”