Saudis have taken to social media to condemn the displacement of residents after many were evicted as authorities demolished entire neighbourhoods across the city of Jeddah. More than 30 neighbourhoods are thought to have been levelled.
According to Al-Mayadeen, the move forms part of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 announced in 2016 and which aims to establish four main international landmarks: an opera house, a museum, a stadium and an aquarium in place of the destroyed homes. However, the plans go back farther to 2007 when Prince Khaled Al-Faisal was appointed governor of the Makkah Al-Mukarramah region which includes Jeddah. Several months after his appointment he announced the project in redeveloping Jeddah, which has over 50 slums, most of which are illegally constructed and have poor infrastructure.
Activists have claimed residents were only given 48 hours and in some cases, 24 hours to vacate their homes. Authorities also cut off people’s water, electricity and other services before notice was given.
Omar Abdulaziz, a member of the National Assembly Party [NAAS] – a Saudi opposition party whose members are exiles, noted: “Those affected by the development, and the removal of buildings and homes are retirees, former soldiers and low earners.”
الحكومة #السعودية تهدم منازل المواطنين بالجرافات من دون أدنى مراعاة لأوضاعهم الإنسانية. أغنى دولة نفطية يعيش مواطنوها تحت خط الفقر ويذلون برغم الثروات النفطية التي تبعثرت على مواسم الترفيه والتسلية والانحلال الأخلاقي! #هدد_جدة #هدم_أحياء_جدة https://t.co/YKgPbXDbwh
— يحيى الحديد Yahya Alhadid (@YahyaAlhadid) January 15, 2022
Yahia Al-Hadid, a Human Rights Defender and the Chairman of Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), in a tweet criticised the Saudi government for destroying the residents’ homes, “without any consideration of their humanitarian situation.”
One video circulating on social media shows worshippers visibly upset about the impending demolishing of their mosque.
#SaudiArabia : Video circulating that appears to show worshippers lamenting plans to demolish a mosque – controversy over demolition of area in #Jeddah which authorities say are slums – trending hashtag #هدد_جده pic.twitter.com/50iQa1ySfI
— sebastian usher (@sebusher) January 21, 2022
However, some Saudis are in favour of the slums being demolished, due to concerns over crime and security.
Saudi activist, Hanan Al-Utaybi, accused Saudi authorities of treating the people “like bandits, as homes are being destroyed and lands are being seized.”
السلطة السعودية تتصرف مع الشعب تصرفات قطاع الطرق؛ فالبيوت تهدم ويتم الإستيلاء على الأراضي..
— د. حنان العتيبي (@Dr_Utaybi) October 23, 2021