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Saudi Arabia land leases and dam conflicts, Sudan

Sudan's traditional and pastoral communities have been suffering from the results of massive land grabs over the past decades.


In July 2016, the Sudanese parliament approved a bill that allows Saudi Arabia to reform and cultivate more than a million acres of land in eastern Sudan. The agreement has sparked criticism from the Nubian society in Sudan. Sudan will lease the one million feddan in the north-eastern area of the Upper Atbara and Setit dams to Saudi Arabia for a period of 99 years. (One feddan is equivalent to 1.038 acres or 0.42 hectares). The decision follows the National Assembly's approval of the framework agreement with Saudi Arabia. [1]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Saudi Arabia land leases and dam conflicts, Sudan
State or province:north-eastern area of the Upper Atbara and Setit dams
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The total amount of arable land in Sudan is about 175 million feddan which is equivalent to 45% of the Arab world’s arable land, out of which only 31 million feddan are being used.

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Project area:420,000 (one million feddan)
Level of Investment:7,425,000,000.00
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1984
Company names or state enterprises:Citadel Capital (Citadel) from Egypt
Al Rajhi International Investment Company from Saudi Arabia
Saudi National Agricultural Development Company (NADEC) from Saudi Arabia
Relevant government actors:Central Bank of Sudan
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Sudan Democracy First Group:
The Nubian Association against Dams
Radio Dabanga:
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Forms of mobilization:Land occupation
Street protest/marches
Threats to use arms
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Violent targeting of activists
Development of alternatives:Communal land tenure system needs to be legalized.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Large scale land grabbing is still happening.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[3] - Land Grab and Institutional Legacy of Colonialism: The Case of Sudan
[click to view]

[8] - The Implication of Land Grabbing on Pastoral Economy in Sudan
[click to view]

[7] - Land Use, Ownership and Allocation in Sudan
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] - Bill allows Saudi Arabia to cultivate Sudan lands
[click to view]

[5] - Sudanese farmers held for working dam land
[click to view]

[2] - ‘Laws legalised land grabbing in Sudan’: Democracy First Group
[click to view]

[6] - ‘Laws legalised land grabbing in Sudan’: Democracy First Group
[click to view]

[4] - ‘Saudi land lease in eastern Sudan won’t benefit ordinary people’
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Sudan farmers fear 'foreign land grabs' - Al-Jazeera
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Christophe Maroun - [email protected]
Last update06/11/2018
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