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Ravenous land sharks plague Saudi

Ravenous land sharks plague Saudi

Land grabbers in the kingdom are making huge profits on government land, and use every possible means to cheat the municipality.

November 17, 2008 2:25 by

and found those we were raiding had prepared for the action, indicating that corrupt employees had passed on information.”

“We had to conduct spontaneous raids during unexpected hours and keep our plan secret to get the job done,” he adds.

Some of them also use clandestine tactics. “They keep their operations low profile until they complete their work. They carry out work on the land that is not so visible from afar before moving to areas located on the more visible roads,” he says.

In a video footage taken through a cell phone, a number of women made a human barricade to stop municipality workers from demolishing their property. The video showed women carrying pictures of King Abdullah in one hand and waving wooden sticks at municipality workers with the other.

“To solve that problem we called in women prison guards. [The land sharks] drag in their families to prevent us from doing our jobs,” he says. “They aim to seek the Kingdom’s leaders’ sympathy. They claim the lands are their only homes but in reality they are part of a purely illegal business to make large gains; they buy the land for a very small price and aim to sell it for a much higher price.”

“Until they do so, they use every means possible to succeed. When we brought women security guards to arrest the women, we found out that some of the women arrested were paid to pose as the owners’ wives,” Ba’sabrain says. “They throw children’s toys in the debris and call in reporters to take shots of those underneath the debris alleging they have no other place to go since the municipality had demolished their homes.”

In short, the problem is far from solved. Perhaps the fatwa issued by Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Alsheikh may reduce the amount of government land these illegal traders claim. But until issues such as bribery within the municipality are addressed, it is unlikely the larger problem of land theft will be dealt with effectively.

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