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The harrowing reality for villagers who live in construction zone of 500m tall The Line megacity

The harrowing reality for villagers who live in construction zone of 500m tall The Line megacity

The Line has been hit by new reporting over its clearance methods.

Saudi Arabia's mega-project The Line, is a huge linear city that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie.

It's currently under construction, with phase one set to be completed by 2030, although it's been beset by controversy.

A major investigative report from the BBC has made some allegations about the the methods being used by the project's organizers, Neom, and Saudi authorities to secure the ground through which The Line will run.

The Line will stretch 75 miles.

Former intelligence officer, Colonel Rabih Alenezi, told the BBC that he was ordered to evict villagers in the way of the project and to use lethal force if necessary.

According to Alenezi, he was given an order in 2020 telling him, "whoever continues to resist [eviction] should be killed, so it licensed the use of lethal force against whoever stayed in their home".

Saudi officials have said that around 6,000 people have been moved in order for the project to continue so far, but human rights group ALQST has estimated that this number is higher, according to the BBC.

The BBC report looked at satellite images of three villages it says were demolished to make way for construction of the Line.

According to the BBC, Colonel Alenezi was given the clearance order for a village called al-Khuraybah. He said he avoided the mission on invented medical grounds, but it went forward anyway.

The BBC says it hasn't been able to independently verify the specific order that Alenezi told them about, but that other sources said it was in line with their understanding of the Saudi clearance missions.

According to the report, one man was shot dead by Saudi authorities during the clearance mission. Saudi state security reportedly said at the time he had opened fire on security forces who had to retaliate, but the BBC says human rights organizations and the UN said he was killed for resisting eviction.

According to the UN and ALQST, 47 other villagers were detained, with 40 still in detention - many on terrorism charges. Five of these are on death row.

The BBC also talked to executives from companies that have pulled out of working with Neom.

"It might be good for some high-tech people living in that area, but what about the rest?" said Malcolm Aw, CEO of Solar Water PLC.

Colonel Alanezi is now living in exile in the UK, and told the BBC he fears for his safety, having apparently declined one invitation to the Saudi embassy for a meeting - something the Saudi government refused to confirm had happened when asked by the BBC.

According to the BBC, the Saudi government and Neom refused to comment on the allegations in the story.

Featured Image Credit: NEOM