Saudi Arabia accuses officials of corruption at tourism projects

The Saudi government has fired a number of government officials on suspicion of corruption working with the Red Sea Company and Souda Development Company tourism projects along the Red Sea coast in the historic city of AlUla and the mountain resort of Abha, news agency Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on 21 August, citing a royal decree.

The officials are under investigation over encroachment on lands belonging to these projects. The royal decree requires that the Control and Anti-Corruption Commission immediately investigate all the officials about their suspected involvement and for legal action to be taken against those found responsible.

There were more than 5,000 violations reported in the Red Sea Project lands and dozens in al-Ula. “These violations are considered violations of the system and constitute environmental damage,” according to SPA.

At the same time, the violations were sanctioned by some officials to complete projects.

The royal order required the termination of the services of Lieutenant General Awad bin Eid bin Awda al-Balawi, Director General of the Border Guard, and referred him to retirement.

It also ended the services of the governors of Umluf, al-Wajh and the head of the Souda Center.

Services of the commanders of the border guard sectors in Umluf and al-Wajh have also been terminated.

The Ministry of Interior and Municipal and Rural Affairs, and the governorates of Madinah, Tabuk and Asir have been given a one-month period to remove all infringements.

Informed Saudi circles said that the new measures are a clear warning message to the influential people in the Kingdom that follow-up will not be limited to previous periods and that accountability will extend to everyone.

Especially since the Saudis see during the reign of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a pivotal rupture with the state’s indulgence with officials and influential people, including princes in the royal family.

AlUla is one of the most important tourist destinations in Saudi Arabia due to its historical treasures, while the Red Sea project includes an archipelago of 90 unspoilt islands with stunning views, while the Souda Development project is a unique mountainous tourist destination.