Saudi activist in London was warned to expect ‘the same fate as Jamal Khashoggi’ after alerting the world to tribe’s eviction from land earmarked for Crown Prince’s new megacity
- Alya Abutayah Alhwaiti says she received death threats from Prince’s supporters
- It came after she raised international awareness about Neom – a new megacity
- Its construction will force out the Howeitat tribe who have lived there for years
- It comes a week after a protestor from the tribe was killed by Saudi government
A Saudi activist in London was warned to expect ‘the same fate as Jamal Khashoggi’ after alerting the world to a tribe’s eviction from land earmarked for the Crown Prince’s new megacity.
Alya Abutayah Alhwaiti claims she received death threats on the phone and on Twitter from people she believes are supporters of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
It came after she raised international awareness about Neom – a planned city which will stretch across the Tabuk region’s border with Jordan – the construction of which will force out the Howeitat tribe who have lived in the area for hundreds of years.
‘We can get you in London,’ Ms Alhwaiti told The BBC she was warned in a call. ‘You think you are safe there, but you are not.’
Alya Abutayah Alhwaiti says she received death threats after raising awareness of the construction of Neom (pictured in an artist’s impression), a futuristic planned city backed by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman
Alya Abutayah Alhwaiti claims she received death threats on the phone and on Twitter from people she believes are supporters of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (pictured), in response to her highlighting the tribe being forced out
Ms Alhwaiti added that she was also threatened with ‘the same fate that happened to Jamal Khashoggi’.
She has reported the threats to the British police.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and critic of the crown prince, was murdered by government agents inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. Intelligence agencies believe his murder was carried out on the prince’s orders, which the Saudi government denies.
It comes after Saudi Arabia last week admitted it killed a protester who refused to leave his home and make way for the Crown Prince’s megacity project.
Abdul-Rahim al-Howeiti was shot dead by security forces in Al-Khuraybah, near the Saudi border with Jordan, the government confirmed.
He had posted videos online alerting the world that Saudi security forces were trying to evict him and Ms Alhwaiti later circulated the clips.
Jamal Khashoggi (pictured), a Saudi journalist and critic of the crown prince, was murdered by government agents inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018
In the videos, al-Howeiti vowed to defy the government’s eviction order. In one, he said he expected the authorities to plant weapons in his house to incriminate him.
Government media claimed al-Howeiti had ‘shot at security forces’ and thrown Molotov cocktails to protect land he regarded as belonging to his Howeitat tribe.
The government said al-Howeiti had ‘shot at security forces while holed up behind sandbags at the top of the building’.
Protester Abdul-Rahim al-Howeiti (pictured left) was shot dead after protesting against the construction plans last week
The statement went on: ‘He did not respond to appeals to surrender and as a result of continued shooting and the throwing of Molotov cocktails, security forces neutralised the threat.’
Officials claimed that an arsenal of weapons which included machines guns, pistols and Molotov cocktails were found at the scene.
This version of events was vigorously denied by Ms Alhwaiti, who insisted that Abdul Rahim al-Howeiti did not have any firearms.
On Wednesday, she posted photographs and video footage from his funeral near the village of al-Khoraibah, which she said was well-attended despite the presence of Saudi security personnel.
Ms Alhwaiti said of the tribe: ‘They are not against the building of Neom. They just don’t want to be forcibly evicted from a land their families have lived in for generations.’
She said eight of Abdul Rahim al-Howeiti’s cousins had been arrested for protesting against the eviction order, but that together with human rights activists in the West they were hoping to mount a legal challenge.
Neom is a planned city which will stretch across the Tabuk region’s border with Jordan and will function as both a tourist destination and a ‘smart city’.
The project is scheduled to be completed by 2025 and will cost an estimated $500billion.
The Howeitat tribe have lived in the area for hundreds of years and were mentioned by T.E. Lawrence after he worked with them during World War I.
The tribe has expressed dismay at being forced to relocate from the area where Neom is being constructed, allegedly without any consultation from the Saudi authorities.
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2019 that up to 20,000 people could be forcibly removed from the area to make room for the Crown Prince’s project.