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.


A jubilant Saudi Arabia celebrates its past, present … and future

Updated 24 September 2018
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A jubilant Saudi Arabia celebrates its past, present … and future

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said National Day is an opportunity to recall the achievements of the country’s founder
  • Saudi Arabia’s friends around the world outdid themselves in expressing their wishes to the Kingdom

RIYADH/JEDDAH/DUBAI:  It was a day that captured the heightened spirit of a nation.

In a year of remarkable changes, Saudi National Day on Sunday took on an exuberance like no other celebration before it, with enough fireworks to break a world record, people celebrating together outdoors across the land and landmarks around the world illuminated with the flag. 

In a speech marking the Kingdom’s 88th National Day, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman praised the nation’s growth under King Salman, saying that while Vision 2030 “looks forward to the future,” Saudi Arabia “will remain committed to the principles” of Islam, “the religion of tolerance and moderation.”

The crown prince said National Day is an opportunity to recall the achievements of the country’s founder, King Abdul Aziz, and his sons. “On our National Day, we take pride in our country’s position on an international, Islamic and Arab level.” 

His sentiments were echoed by citizens, who gathered last night in 20 cities to watch more than 900,000 fireworks light up the sky.

Laser light show at a Jeddah stadium Sunday night as part of National Day celebrations. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

“I am so happy with all the changes going on under the visionary leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi women are happy to join the National Day parades, this year behind the wheel,” said Saudi actor and presenter Khairiah Abu Laban.

“We went around the city to see the lighting and the fireworks,” said Saleh Al-Omri, a pharmacist in Riyadh. “Green and white balloons fill either side of Riyadh streets.”

Saudi Arabia’s friends around the world outdid themselves in expressing their wishes to the Kingdom over the weekend, culminating on the day. 

The Burj Khalifa was illuminated with the Saudi flag, while the Nasdaq Tower’s digital billboard in New York’s Times Square was lit up with photos of King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the flags of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. 

In Lebanon, Pigeon Rocks, in Raouché off the coast of Beirut, were lit in the colors of the Saudi flag. 

The UAE’s airlines got in on the game. Emirates operated a special one-off A380 service on Sunday to Riyadh, and crew handed out scarves emblazoned with the countries’ flags.

Not to be outdone, Etihad said it was using the only Saudi A380 pilot in the world, Wesam Sameer Al-Najjar, to fly its Year of Zayed plane to Jeddah with the UAE’s Captain Ahmed Almalood. 

And if all that wasn’t enough, King Salman added an extra day, Monday, to the holiday.

Air show by the Saudi Royal Air Force in Jeddah in celebration of National Day. (SPA)