Residents left in dire straits after Saudi govt bulldozes poor Jeddah neighbourhoods
Over the past three months, the Saudi government has launched a massive demolition campaign targeting dozens of poor neighbourhoods in Jeddah, to make way for an urban development project. With very little time to leave and no compensation, hundreds of thousands of people are now in dire straits, with no way to appeal, as our Observer explains.
The Saudi Public Investment Fund, presided over by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, announced the launch of a 20 billion dollar (around 18 billion euro) development project called Jeddah Central. The development will include a museum, an opera house, a stadium, an aquarium, hotels and new residential neighbourhoods.
Authorities have carried out demolitions in about 60 different neighbourhoods, most located in the southern part of the city, near the port. And even more neighbourhoods will be affected in the coming months, with the bulldozing slated to continue.
We spoke to Mohamed (not his real name), a resident of Jeddah, about the impact of these demolitions.
The authorities haven't provided enough resources to relocate all the families. City workers put up notices on certain buildings. The notices said: 'You must move out in two days... three days... or a week.' If people didn't move out, they cut the electricity and threw their belongings into the street.
The government says it has found accommodation for some of the displaced families. But not the majority. Activists estimate that nearly 800,000 people have been displaced in all. They haven't found new housing for all of them.
It's OK to want to modernise the city. But not if it hurts the residents. Even if they're foreigners and they're poor, they deserve respect.