Activists denounce Saudi decision to demolish poor neighborhoods in Jeddah
The Saudi government is accused of putting economic interests above the welfare of residents, many of whom are migrants from Yemen and Africa
By News Desk - January 29 2022

Rubble strewn on a street after authorities demolished several houses in the neighborhood of Kandara in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 29 December 2021. (Photo credit: Al-Mayadeen)

On 28 January, human rights activists in Saudi Arabia denounced a plan by authorities to demolish several neighborhoods in the resort of city of Jeddah to pave the way for infrastructure projects by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS).

Activists disclosed that the demolition of neighborhoods, that are predominantly occupied by migrants from Yemeni and African countries, will leave up to one million people homeless.

According to the activists, the demolitions, which started in late 2021, will see the neighborhoods of Gulail, Kandara, Al-Baghdadiya, Al-Karantinah, Hindawiya and others razed to the ground in order to make way for the construction of an opera house, a museum, a sports complex, and several other entertainment facilities under the so-called Vision 2030 propagated by the crown prince.

The Jeddah municipality claims that the decision to demolish the neighborhoods was made independently, and not as a result of pressure from MbS as alleged by the activists.

The municipality said the reason for the demolition was due to rampant crime in the area and that buildings were constructed without following municipal guidelines. It also said that all residents whose houses are demolished will be compensated.

Stakeholders have, however, insisted that the order to raze down the neighborhoods came from Riyadh and that the compensation on offer by authorities to residents is less than one third of the value of their property.

Many have decried the fact that residents were not given ample time to find alternative accommodation. In some cases, they said,  they were given notice to vacate their homes within 48 hours.

In other instances, the municipality cut off utility services, such as water and electricity, to force residents to leave their homes.

Activists said it is unfortunate that people can be left homeless in a country that is endowed with abundant economic and natural resources.

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