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25 Jun 2024

Tom Ravenscroft, Dezeen

Saudi Arabia: ALQST calls for Neom project architects to campaign for the release of imprisoned land defenders or reassess involvement per UNGPs


"Neom being "built on the blood of Saudis" says ALQST's Lina Alhathloul,"

Architecture studios involved in Neom should either campaign for the release of people imprisoned for protesting against the Saudi mega-project or walk away, says human rights campaigner Lina Alhathloul...

A recent BBC interview with former Saudi intelligence officer Colonel Rabih Alenezi refocused international attention on the Neom human rights situation. Alenezi told the BBC that "lethal force" was authorised to remove those resisting relocation to make way for The Line mega city, which is being built as part of Neom.

"Architecture firms working on Neom cannot pretend anymore not to know that they are working on land on which the local inhabitants have been either killed, arrested, sentenced to death or forcibly displaced," said Alhathloul.

"They should urgently reflect upon their legal and moral responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and relevant company commitments, and indeed reassess their involvement on the project entirely unless the adverse human rights impact can be addressed."...

"The message to architecture studios working in Neom is that despite the huge PR machine surrounding the project, it is not sustainable if developed against the will of the local people, and without any checks, balances or transparent decision-making processes," said Alhathloul.

"You should either contribute to Neom being more respectful of its human rights and legal obligations, or your reputation will, indisputably, be affected, and linked to the project's mismanagement and accompanying abuses on the ground."