Green Dream Turned Nightmare: Energy CEO Walks Away From $100M Neom Deal Over Alleged Human Rights Abuses

A green energy project aimed at transforming Saudi Arabia has hit a snag. Malcolm Aw, CEO of Solar Water, revealed he canceled a $100 million contract with Neom, the futuristic megacity touted as a beacon of sustainable development. The reason? Deep concerns about alleged human rights violations.

Aw, initially enthusiastic about contributing to Neom’s green ambitions, planned to build solar desalination plants. However, upon learning about reports of villages being bulldozed to clear land for the project, he made a difficult decision.

“It just reeked of something terrible,” Aw told Business Insider. “You don’t step on people’s throats to achieve progress.”

Neom, the centerpiece of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, aims to diversify the kingdom’s economy beyond oil and gas. The project envisions a high-tech utopia powered by renewable energy, attracting tourists and businesses alike.

Human rights groups have consistently criticized Neom for displacing indigenous communities. The forced evictions raise serious questions about how Neom’s shiny vision will be realized.

Aw’s decision highlights the ethical dilemmas companies face when working in countries with checkered human rights records. While the potential for financial gain is significant, some principles seem to be non-negotiable.

This incident casts a shadow over Neom’s future. Can the project achieve its goals without addressing these serious concerns? Only time will tell, but for now, the path forward seems less certain.


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