Human rights group urges caution over dealing with Neom
Human rights organisation Amnesty International has warned businesses seeking to work on development projects in Saudi Arabia, especially Neom, to research whether the land they seek to work on was seized without permission.
In a public statement, Assessment of Human Rights Risks in Saudi Arabia for Businesses and Investors, Amnesty raises the issue of how the Huwaitat tribe are being forced from their land to make way for the $500 billion Neom sagacity project, spearheaded by Saudi de facto ruler, crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Amnesty advises potential partners in Saudi projects: “Businesses considering participating in development projects should, as a part of their due diligence request full details of how land has been or will be acquired, including whether evictions or removals were carried out and under what circumstances and put in mitigation plans to ensure that forced evictions do not take place in development projects they are participating in.
“If residents have been removed under circumstances that amount to forced evictions, businesses and investors should give serious consideration to whether they can be involved in and profit from a project only made possible by serious human rights violations.”
The organisation notes the killing of Abdul Rahim al-Huwaiti, a Huwaitat community leader, in April 2020, after he led opposition to his tribe’s displacement.
Amnesty also warns that Neom “will apparently have a distinct legal framework, about which there is little information”.
Saudi Arabia is already facing unprecedented levels of rejection from potential investors and partners due to its human rights record and is largely relying on the meagre funds still available to the kingdom after the economic shocks of coronavirus and falling oil prices.
Global campaign groups like Amnesty, which are banned from operating in Saudi Arabia, can help bolster the fight against
Neom through issuing warnings such as these to international businesses.