Thursday, 13 October 2022 – Three men of the Howeitat tribe in Saudi Arabia have been ‘sentenced to death for refusing to leave their home town to make way for the new £450billion mega-city Neom.

According to UK-based rights group Alqst, the three men were arrested in 2020 for opposing the eviction of tribesmen from the land and Saudi Arabia’s Specialised Criminal Court handed them death sentences on October 2.

In a tweet the rights group said: ‘The family members were detained in 2020 for opposing eviction to make way for Neom.

‘We condemn the sentences and call for their release.’

Shadli’s brother Abdul Rahim was a 43-year-old shot dead by Saudi forces in April 2020 after protesting the displacement of Tabuk province residents, Middle East Eye reported.

Abdul regularly shared videos of his protests on YouTube.

The new report comes as members of the Howeitat tribe claim the campaign to evict them from their land for the mega-city – which will be the site of the 2029 Asian Winter Games – had escalated.

Abdulilah and Abdullah Dukhail – family members of the three men were given 50-year prison terms and 50-year travel bans for supporting their relatives’ stance.

Mother-of-two and Leeds University student Salma al-Shehab and mother-of-five Nourah bint Saeed al-Qahtani were also handed long prison terms for tweets criticizing the Saudi Arabian government.

Salma was sentenced to 34 years in prison while Nourah received a sentence of 45 years.

Alqst rights group said that writer, translator and computer programmer Osama Khaled received a 32-year prison sentence over ‘allegations relating to the right of free speech’.

The proposed industrial district, called Oxagon, is billed as being ‘a comprehensive cognitive city’ that will make use of robots and AI and act as an industrial port hub for the country’s newest region in the northwest – Neom.

Neom, the flagship project of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is a planned city-state that would cover 10,000 square miles of Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk province, near its borders with Jordan and Egypt.

Neom is part of an ambitious plan to wean Saudi Arabia off oil dependency and transform the country into a tech hub like Silicon Valley, while also incorporating towns, research centres, education zones, and tourist attractions.

Plans for Neom show it will be 33 times the size of New York City and will have a ‘smart’ city at its centre, also called Neom

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