Saudi Arabia sentences three men who opposed NEOM megacity to death

Saudi Arabia sentences three men who opposed NEOM megacity to death
One of the men sentenced is the brother of Abdul Rahim al-Howeiti, who was reportedly shot dead after campaigning against evictions of residents from land earmarked for the NEOM project.
2 min read
08 October, 2022
The NEOM megacity project, currently under construction in northwestern Saudi Arabia, is scheduled for completion in 2025 [Getty]

A Saudi rights group has condemned their country's judiciary for giving death sentences to three men who opposed evictions from land where the NEOM megacity is being built.

The three men sentenced to death last Sunday, all from the al-Howeiti tribe, were detained in 2020 for opposing the evictions in northwestern Saudi Arabia to make way for the $500 billion project, human rights organisation ALQST said Thursday.

"We condemn the sentences and call for their immediate and unconditional release," ALQST said of the sentencing of the three men.

One of the condemned men, Shadli al-Howeiti, is the brother of Abdul Rahim al-Howeiti, an outspoken critic of the NEOM project reportedly shot dead by Saudi forces after refusing to vacate his home in 2020.

The rights group previously said that Shadli al-Howeiti had begun a hunger strike in May to protest his ill-treatment and placement in solitary confinement.

The NEOM megaproject is being funded by the Saudi sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund.

Most of the ambitious scheme is meant to be completed by 2025, as per the timeline set by Saudi Vision 2030 - Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman's far-fetched plan to wean the Saudi economy off of oil by the end of this decade.

Live Story

However, the project has raised a host of concerns over the displacement of the area's residents, as well as the harmful impact it could have on local flora and fauna.

The Saudi kingdom severely punishes citizens who dare to express public criticism of the government.

It was awarded the 2029 Asian Winter Games last week, drawing fresh criticism from opponents who say Riyadh uses cultural and sporting events to whitewash its human rights abuses.