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Saudi Arabia has sentenced to death three men who refused to have their tribe evicted from its homeland to make way for the Neom smart city project, a rights group has reported.
The Huwaitat tribe has been opposing the project for quite some time now, with one of its members getting shot by Saudi security forces last year after he publicized photos on social media of tribe members getting displaced to clear the land for Neom, the rights group, Alqst, reported.
It added that other members of the tribe have been offered money to agree to the evictions.
The death sentences follow two 50-year sentences handed to two other members of the Huwaitat tribe last month. Abdulilah al-Howeiti and Abdullah Dukhail al-Howeiti were sentenced to 50 years in jail and received a 50-year travel ban for their refusal to be evicted from their homes in the Tabuc province, which has been earmarked for Neom, Middle East Eye reported.
Neom is the flagship project of Vision 2030, Prince Mohammed’s brainchild aimed at reducing Saudi Arabia’s reliance on oil revenues. A smart megacity powered by wind and solar that will produce green hydrogen at a $5-billion facility, the project has often been questioned as perhaps a little too ambitious.
Worth a staggering $500 billion, the project has been touted as Saudi Arabia’s way into the energy transition club and a means of turning the Kingdom into a major renewable power and hydrogen supplier. Spanning more than 10,000 square miles, the project includes a zero-carbon city and industrial and logistics sectors.
The fortunes of the project, however, have been mixed. There is little in the way of updates on its progress although recently media reported that Saudi Arabia had won the bid to host the 2029 Asian Winter Games at the smart megacity. This suggests it should be completed by then, or at least partially completed.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com