Saudi begins compensation for coastal clearance project

sea water with white foam in t he coastal sand
(Photo: Envato Elements)
RIYADH — Saudi Arabia has begun compensating residents who lost property to a massive redevelopment project in the coastal city of Jeddah that has spurred rare expressions of public anger, state media said. اضافة اعلان

“The delivery of the first batch of compensation for the removed properties has begun,” the official Saudi Press Agency said in a report late Sunday, though it did not specify how many people had been compensated so far.

It said 1 billion Saudi riyals ($267 million) would be distributed as part of the “first batch of compensation”, without providing a timeline or indicating when future payouts might occur.

Authorities have pitched the clearance and construction work in Jeddah, the kingdom’s second-largest city, as the latest ambitious project of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, one that will replace “slums” with amenities like a stadium, an oceanarium and an opera house.

Yet some who have lost homes have bristled at official descriptions of their old neighborhoods as undesirable hotbeds of drugs and crime.

They have also voiced concern about how compensation will work, telling AFP earlier this year that there was no clear way to assess the value of property that is already destroyed.
The demolitions began last October and stand to displace up to half a million people.

Evicted residents had been living in their homes for up to 60 years, according to a survey published in April by ALQST for Human Rights, a non-government group.

The survey found some residents had not received clear information on how to claim compensation, or even been told it was available.

Appraisals are being carried out by “independent committees” representing four government agencies, SPA said Sunday.

Jeddah — often referred to as the “Gateway to Mecca”, Islam’s holiest city — is a lively tourist hub of beachfront restaurants and galleries that has in past months hosted a major film festival and a Formula One Grand Prix.

The demolitions risk fuelling anti-government sentiment in the 32 neighborhoods affected, many of which housed a mix of Saudis and foreigners from other Arab countries and Asia.

So far, 20 neighborhoods have been cleared, SPA said, and the process of clearing the remaining 12 will be completed by mid-November.

The Saudi government has promised to provide compensation and announced in February it would complete 5,000 replacement housing units by the end of the year.

Officials defend the project, saying it will modernize the city and add 17,000 new residential units, while retaining its character.

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