Saudi village of Al-Musawara now almost free of terrorists and criminals

Saudi Special Forces troops stand guard in the village of Awamiya in Qatif governorate on August 9, 2017 following a security campaign against criminals and terrorists. (REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser)
Updated 14 August 2017
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Saudi village of Al-Musawara now almost free of terrorists and criminals

AL-AWAMIYAH, Eastern Province: Saudi Special Security Forces (SSSF) have almost completely rid Al-Musawara of terrorists and criminal elements that have laid siege to the Shiite-majority village for months.
In intense battles over the last four days, a number of wanted terrorists surrendered, were arrested or were killed in the small village, restoring residents’ hope that life can return back to normal in a place where Shiite and Sunni Muslims lived side by side for centuries.
In May, Qatif governorate began bulldozing Al-Musawara, a 400-year-old part of Al-Awamiyah that had been taken over by armed militants who terrorized residents for the past six years.
Demolition of the farming community of 6,000 residents began in order to develop the area into a shopping and recreational complex that can serve the needs of the communities there.
But when bulldozers moved in to level the dilapidated village, they were met with heavy fire, including rocket-propelled grenades.
“This village has existed for years, and there was never really a problem here,” said one SSSF member who cannot be identified for his safety and because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
“Six years ago this was a normal yet aging village. When the development project began and residents moved out, wanted persons took shelter there and began targeting police patrols. Several officers were killed.”
Falah Al-Khalidi, acting governor of Qatif, told Arab News that residents who wanted to leave the besieged village were relocated to furnished apartments at the government’s expense, and were later given fair compensation for their property.
“There are 488 buildings in Al-Musawara,” Al-Khalidi said. “Compensation has been paid in the amount of SR900 million ($240 million), far more than the properties are worth.”
As residents accepted the compensation and left Al-Musawara, many buildings were abandoned and the village became a ghost town, with drug dealers, arms merchants, terrorists and other criminals moving in.
“Wanted terrorists and other criminals from outside Qatif province began coming to Al-Musawara and staying because they knew police couldn’t get them there,” Al-Khalidi said.
An Interior Ministry source said construction workers, civilians and security patrols were targeted and killed, including a 2-year-old Saudi and a Pakistani man.
The gunmen had tried to stop redevelopment work and fired at security personnel and passers-by.
In addition to the death of the Saudi child and Pakistani national, 10 others, including six Saudis, were seriously injured in a single incident.
As Arab News was escorted in an armored personnel carrier on Tuesday, it saw destroyed buildings riddled with bullet holes, burned-out businesses, and wrecked and abandoned cars.
It looked like a war zone due to the fierce fight against security forces that had mobilized to protect residents.
Even with 95 percent of Al-Musawara under control, according to the Interior Ministry, there were shots fired near the armored cars carrying Arab News and ministry officials. This resulted in a quick escape.
“There are still eight or nine people we’re looking for, and we’ll find them,” the ministry source said.
“We expect that in a couple of days, the area will be completely under the control of security services so demolition can be completed and the development begun.”
Arab News saw Pakistani construction workers and bulldozer operators wearing bulletproof jackets and helmets for their protection.
The development project will take two years, and will include a mall and entertainment venues, among other things.


Center for Government Communication launched for 88th Saudi National Day

Updated 10 min 54 sec ago
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Center for Government Communication launched for 88th Saudi National Day

  • The CGC aims to highlight the achievements of the nation in a year to achieve the desired impact and strengthen the national identity of individuals, enhance pride in National Day.
  • Minister of Media Dr. Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad: The progress made in consolidating the media discourse has been very visible.

RIYADH:  Minister of Media Dr. Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad announced on Thursday the inauguration of the unified media center for the 88th National Day at a ceremony held in Riyadh, attended by a large number of journalists, the leaders of the Ministry of Media and official spokespersons of the participating government bodies.
He affirmed that the progress made in consolidating the media discourse, as well as the growing integration and coordination among the governmental bodies, has been very visible.
Al-Awwad added that those who walk in the streets of the Kingdom understand this through the unified visual identity of the streets of Saudi cities and buildings on the occasion of National Day.
He said that “the success we are witnessing today could not have been achieved without the guidance, support and confidence of our wise leadership, God, and the cooperation, support, and commitment of government officials” adding that everyone is a partner in work and in achieving success.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Maghlouth, Ministry of Information spokesman and director-general of the Center for Government Communication (CGC), said that the number of publications that were circulated marking Saudi’s 88th National Day in the media and social networking sites reached 221,000.
He added that about 2,000 journalists participated in the National Day through the platform of the center. He pointed to the digital platform “Tawareel” as one of the initiatives of the CGC in the Ministry of Media to enhance achieve greater coordination between the center and government agencies.
Those figures showed that the center was on the right track and that coordination was increasing day by day. The national media plan for the National Day for the first time created a unified visual and verbal identity for Saudi National Day 88. It also coordinated the efforts of various governmental agencies and the private sector through the establishment of a unified media center that brings together the participants in this event to ensure commitment to identity and the unification of media messages.
The CGC aims to highlight the achievements of the nation in a year to achieve the desired impact and strengthen the national identity of individuals, enhance pride in National Day, and interact with its activities and programs and initiatives.
Al-Maghlooth said that the inauguration ceremony of the CGC for the 88th National Day was a long process which had begun to bear fruit at the beginning of this year when the Ministry of Information announced the establishment of the governmental and international communication centers as strategic initiatives to adopt the best media practices worldwide.
He pointed out that one objective was a united media message: Through strengthening coordination and information integration between government agencies. CGC will be providing support through training and development, preparing strategic plans and information campaigns, crisis management, and providing monitoring, analysis, data and information.
Al-Maghlooth explained what the Ministry of Media had achieved since the launch of the centers of government and international communication in early 2018; a qualitative leap as illustrated by the statistics.
He said that the Kingdom hosted more than 818 international journalists from more than 100 countries who participated in covering the Hajj and highlighting it in proportion to its important status and the Kingdom’s great efforts.
The achievements and figures confirm that the center and other government entities work together well and will continue to make progress with the guidance, support and care of the country’s leadership, and with the cooperation and continuous support of the government bodies, to achieve the goals and aspirations of Vision 2030, which reaches the sky.