Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Falcons on a plane. Check. Journalists silenced. Check. A new mega city on virgin turf near the sea with sparring robots and flying taxis? Check. He just tried to expel members of a local tribe there, and one activist got killed opening up a new pile of problems for the prince who plans on making Saudi Arabia a western tourist destination.
According to the Middle East Eye, members of the Howeitat tribe are being expelled from their homes to build the megacity, with the conflict turning deadly in a shooting in northwestern al-Khuraybah. Abdul-Rahim al-Howeiti, pictured above was reportedly killed for refusing to give up his home for the Saudi megacity project.
The shooting of a Saudi tribal activist happened while he was protesting his eviction as part of the construction of Neom. Saudi authorities acknowledged they had killed al-Howeiti in northwestern Al-Khuraybah. The statement also said that Howeiti had refused to surrender to security forces and that he had opened fire, losing his life in a subsequent gunfight.
However, footage purported to be from the incident and events leading up to it has circulated online in recent days – including testimony from Howeiti himself decrying the Neom project, “I would not be surprised if they come and kill me in my home now like they do in Egypt, throw weapons in your home and call you a terrorist,” he told the Middle East Eye. Here on Twitter is footage from just before he was shot.
In one of his most recent videos, posted on Saturday, Howeiti on YouTube said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has already started the project, and people were being removed from the area.
My grandparents, Dutch immigrants to Canada, were forcibly removed from their estate in Canada, a piece of property now worth hundreds of millions. What governments want, governments do. In places like Saudi Arabia, there is likely no adequate compensation structure in place and well who are you going to negotiate with?
Neom, is what the Saudi Crown Prince wants and needs for the world to think that Saudi Arabia really really is a modern place. Expected to cost billions, and completed by 2025, it will be 33 times the size of New York and well, way cooler because it will have walking dinosaurs, flying taxis, and good grief sparring robots. Yawn. You can read our story about Neom here.
What the world needs is more practical thinking like Oman, that is attempting to make walkable towns and cities with agriculture and nature in mind.