Saudi Arabia Will Execute Three Men For Opposing Development Plan

white flag marked near the saudi arabia
Photo by Lara Jameson on Pexels.com

Three members of the Howeitat tribe in Saudi Arabia have been sentenced to death for opposing the futuristic “smart city” project Neom. According to UN human-rights specialists, the men were charged with terrorism but allegedly arrested for resisting forced evictions in the name of the Neom project and the construction of The Line, a 170km linear city being built as part of Neom.

As reported by Business Insider, the experts said that the men had been convicted under an “overly vague” terror law which appears not to meet international law. They also asked the Saudi justice ministry to investigate allegations of torture in the process of interrogating the men.

The three men – Shadly Ahmad Mahmoud Abou Taqiqa al-Huwaiti, Ibrahim Salih Ahmad Abou Khalil al-Huwaiti, and Atallah Moussa Mohammed al-Huwaiti – were sentenced to death under Saudi’s terror laws last August and had their sentences upheld in January. Three further tribe members were given prison sentences of up to 50 years, according to the experts.

Critics have long questioned the surveillance objectives of futuristic, tech-driven, and environmentally advanced developments like Neom. And locals have reportedly been forced off their land to make way for the project. Since January 2020, residents of three villages – Al Khuraiba, Sharma, and Gayal – have been evicted without fair compensation despite promises from the state.

Under international law, states that have not yet abolished the death penalty may only impose it for the “most serious crimes”, involving intentional killing. The experts said: “We do not believe the actions in question meet this threshold.”

Neom and the Saudi Ministry of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.