Saudi authorities are seeking to produce a movie, in which the leaders of the local Al-Hwaiti tribe would disown their son, Abdul Rahim, who was shot dead by the security forces as he refused to give up his home to make for a major government project.
Local sources yesterday told the Al-Qst that on the day of the handover of Abdul Rahim's body, the Tabuk municipality invited a number of tribal leaders to discuss the matter. They added that some rejected the invite.
During the meeting, the sources pointed out, authorities pledged to pay "100,000 Saudi riyals ($26,585) for each of its [the tribe's] members, and 300,000 riyals ($80,000) for each member with the title of "Sheikh" in return for their contribution in an official movie."
The sources reported that the film aimed to "make the tribe disown Abdul Rahim, as well as other members who are refusing the expulsion order by the government".
Last week, Saudi authorities were reported to have arrested a further eight members of the Al-Hwaiti tribe in the north-western town of Al-Khuraybah also for refusing to give up their homes to make way for the kingdom's NEOM mega-city project.
The murder of Abdul Rahim Al-Hwaiti by Saudi security forces sparked outrage on social media, with activists accusing Saudi of "delaying the handover of the man's body to his family for burial."
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Prior to his death, Abdul Rahim posted a video online in which he criticised NEOM, saying the village's residents were being "forcibly removed from their homes after facing pressure from the government and rejecting financial compensation to move."
"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… this is my home and I'll protect it," he said.
NEOM – also known as the Red Sea development is envisioned to be in the Tabuk province – was initiated by the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohamed Bin Salman, in hope for the project to become a hub for "tourism, innovation and technology" as part of his Vision 2030 to transform the image of Saudi Arabia into one that is more moderate and to diversify its oil-based economy.
According to NEOM's website, the project will include "towns and cities, ports and enterprise zones, research centres, sports and entertainment venues, and tourist destinations."
"It will be the home and workplace for more than a million citizens from around the world," the website says.