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. 
According to the bill, Saudi Arabia would invest $10 billion in the first 10-year phase to build the infrastructure before moving to the next phase that involves land reformation. For this the investors have the right to use the dams' water to irrigate the land. The Nubian Association against Dams has criticized the parliament’s decision, describing the investment law as a colonial one. 
The native administration leaders in Sudan’s Kassala state have rejected the lease of tracts of land around the Setit (Seteet) dam project on the border of Kassala and El Gedaref to Saudi investors for 99 years. Mohammed El Hassan El Iheimir, one of the native administration leaders in Kassala state and head of the Unified Unionist Party, said that “the land around the Setit project and El Gash delta is deserved by the people of the state. It is the only area where there is easy, regular and cheap irrigation fit for cultivation during the drought.” 
Later on, in August, police in Kassala state held 15 farmers for working land from which they were previously removed in return for compensation not exceeding SDG2,500 ($410) per acre. In an interview, residents described the conditions in the villages as miserable because of constant interruptions in water and electricity services, lack of health services, and houses built from materials that cannot protect them from summer heat and winter cold. 
Khartoum has relied on formal law – the Unregistered Land Act of 1970 and the Civil Transaction Act of 1984 – to designate all unregistered land as state land. The 1970 Act further legitimizes expropriation by expressly authorizing the eviction of occupants on unregistered lands, through the use of reasonable force if necessary. 
Both of this legislation strengthened the privileges of the state over land. By doing so, it also allowed elites to acquire rural land at low price. The most affected land was those that were held by customary authorities, accessed collectively by virtue of being a member of an ethnic group in the region. Those who were not resident on the land could secure the right of passage through the land or grazing rights from communities who lived on the land. 
The result was the displacement of communities, mostly agro-pastoralists, from land usually through violence. Both legislations dismantled the defense the peasants, pastoral communities, and nomads had in traditional authorities whose mandate also included the management of land. Lastly both legislation denied traditional authorities, “formal legitimacy or juridical status to traditional property rights and implied the cancellation of all rights – and income – relating to water, land and grazing by pastoralists.” The forceful eviction and displacement of entire communities, initiated by the passage of these laws in Sudan has created a large population who are landless and internally displaced, without jobs, and access to basic services. 
According to the Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG), the Sudanese Government continues to grant new long-term leases over community lands to investors without consulting local populations or obtaining their consent. In its September 2016 report, Land Use, Ownership and Allocation in Sudan, SDFG tackles the legal expropriation of unregistered lands, “which account for 90 per cent of all land in the country”, and the scope and scale of corruption concerning land use and ownership. As a result, smallholders and pastoralists have been evicted from their land and pastures and lost their access to natural resources in favor of private investors, land speculators, military personnel and elites. They did not receive any form of compensation.