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Gulf citizens powerless in face of megaprojects

Local communities in Saudi Arabia often have no say in the strategic infrastructure projects and long-term economic reforms that directly impact them.
(FILES) A file picture taken on January 6, 2020 during the Dakar 2020 car racing shows a general view of Saudi Arabia's northwestern region, between Neoam and al-Wajh. - A rare revolt by a Saudi tribe has spelt fresh trouble for a planned Red Sea megacity, a lynchpin of the crown princes economic vision already beset by low oil prices. The $500 billion NEOM project, set to be built from scratch along the kingdom's picturesque western coast, is billed as a futuristic cityscape evocative of a sci-fi blockbust

Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti was killed in a shootout with Saudi security forces in April after refusing to vacate his home. He had been active in opposing evictions for a futuristic megacity called NEOM that is planned to be built on the Red Sea coast, the land of al-Huwaiti’s community. He posted videos on social media about his efforts to block officials from coming into his home to evict him and ended up documenting his own shooting.

You have no one there,” Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a 2017 interview about his vision, though 20,000 people are expected to be forcibly relocated to make room for what's being promoted as a global hub for trade and innovation that will attract residents from all over the world.

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