|• Also spelled||al-Obaidya (official)|
|• Jurisdiction||97,232 dunams (97.2 km2 or 37.5 sq mi)|
Al-Ubeidiya (Arabic: لعبيديّه) is a Palestinian town located 6 kilometers (3.7 mi) east of Bethlehem. The town is a part of the Bethlehem Governorate in the central West Bank. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), al-Ubeidiya had a population of over 10,753 in 2007.
History and archaeology
Al-Ubeidiya is named after Saint Theodosius ("Ibn Ubeid" in Arabic), who built and was buried in a monastery 1 kilometer (0.62 mi) west of the town, known as the Monastery of St. Theodosius. It was originally constructed in the 5th-century CE and Theodosius was buried there in 520. The current structure was built by the Crusaders in the 12th-century. It is located on a hilltop and is under the administration of the Greek Orthodox Church. The Mar Saba Monastery—which was built by Saint Sabbas in 484 CE—is located further east of the town center, but within its municipal jurisdiction. An Ancient Roman pool is situated in the center of al-Ubeidiya and was used in the Roman era of rule in Palestine to collect water.
The modern town of al-Ubeidiya dates back to at least 1600 CE, when members of the Shammar tribe from the Arabian Peninsula settled there. According to local tradition, the town is not named after St. Theodosius, but after tribal leader, al-Ubeidi Faris. The residents are mostly descendants of the Shammar with the main families being al-'Asa, al-Radayda, al-Rabai'a, al-Hasasna, and Abu Sirhan. The population is Muslim (although the monasteries are populated by Greek Orthodox monks) and there are ten mosques in the town. Since 1997, al-Ubeidiya has been governed by an 11-member municipal council appointed by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). The municipality has jurisdiction over 97,232 dunams of land—much larger than the built-up and residential areas of the town which constitute 979 of those dunams. Other localities located within the municipal borders include Wadi al-Arayis.