As part of Mohammad Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 for Saudi Arabia, authorities have started demolishing homes and other structures in the port city of Jeddah leaving thousands of residents homeless.
The homes have been sprayed with red paint and dwellers were asked to evacuate for the demolitions to start.
The authorities plan to target as many as 60 districts of the city mainly located in the south. The drive will continue for months. So far ten neighbourhoods have been razed to the ground and work in ten other areas continues.
According to Sabq, a pro-government news outlet: “The demolition drive is planned to clean the city of slums and unpleasant settlements.”
According to Middle East Eye, the residents have been taken by surprise and given little to no room to plan their relocation or say goodbye to the neighbourhoods they have lived in for generations.
The residents also complained that authorities did not provide any alternative shelters or any compensation. Many have become homeless while others have become renters. According to local sources, the rent has also skyrocketed in the city and many former homeowners find it hard to afford to pay the rents.
MEE reported that some people are even sleeping in cars. One Jeddah resident said: “There are Saudi families who have no money. They can’t even afford to move their furniture. There are children who need to go to school. There are elders, widows and people with disabilities. I saw women crying on the street.”
Videos circulating online show the widespread destruction of areas that had many historical sites. Entire neighbourhoods have been turned into ruins. Before and after satellite images of Ghulail, one of the first areas to be wiped out, show historic and popular areas turned into dust.
Schools, mosques, residential buildings and houses for elderly people have all been marked or already been demolished. However, according to the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya channel, everyone was given one month notice by the authorities and some compensation schemes were announced for those who could prove the ownership of his house.
Omar Abdulaziz, a member of the National Assembly Party [NAAS], a Saudi opposition party whose members are in exile, tweeted: “Those affected by the development, and the removal of buildings and homes are retirees, former soldiers and low earners.”
Yahia Al-Hadid, a Human Rights Defender and the Chairman of Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (GIDHR), in a tweet said: “The government demolishes citizens’ homes with bulldozers without any regard for their humanitarian conditions. The richest oil country, its citizens live below the poverty line and are humiliated despite the oil wealth that was scattered over the seasons of entertainment and moral decay!”