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

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.

Riyadh governor launches SR3 billion educational projects in Saudi capital

Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar inaugurates SR3 billion worth of educational projects on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 26 April 2018

Riyadh governor launches SR3 billion educational projects in Saudi capital

  • 253 schools will open their doors to students: governor
  • The school buildings would serve 206,465 male and female students at all stages of schooling with 5,899 classrooms

RIYADH: Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar launched SR3 billion ($800 million) worth of educational projects on Wednesday at the Riyadh General Administration of Education. 

The launch was in the presence of Education Minister Ahmed Al-Issa and a number of educational and pedagogical leaders as well as governmental bodies.

Prince Faisal said: “Today, we are seeing the cancelation of many old schools and the enhancement of many new ones; 253 schools will open their doors to students, a very high number that is not very common in many other states.”

The director general of education in Riyadh, Hamad bin Nasser Al-Wahaibi, said the educational projects aimed to achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which includes providing an adequate educational environment for students and teachers.

He said that the number of educational projects launched on Wednesday by Prince Faisal totaled 253 educational buildings, including 132 for boys and 121 for girls, along with 122 modern gyms, 44 playing fields, and 28 kindergartens and educational offices. He said that the school buildings would serve 206,465 male and female students at all stages of schooling with 5,899 classrooms. 

The total worth of these projects was SR3 billion ($800 million) and the current school year had seen the operation of 48 educational projects worth more than SR572 million.

These projects included four kindergartens, 12 primary schools, 11 educational projects for middle school, five for high school and 13 educational complexes and gyms. 

This year, seven kindergarten buildings, 22 primary schools, 15 middle schools, nine high school buildings and 20 gyms were operated, along with 31 buildings for boys (including 757 classrooms for 22,000 students) and 33 buildings for girls (including 404 classrooms for 12,000 female students), he said.

He said that the Riyadh administration supervised 119 educational projects worth more than SR1.2 billion.