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Al-Awamiyah is located in Saudi Arabia
Coordinates: 26°35′N 49°59′E / 26.583°N 49.983°E / 26.583; 49.983Coordinates: 26°35′N 49°59′E / 26.583°N 49.983°E / 26.583; 49.983
Country Saudi Arabia
ProvinceEastern Province
 • Estimate 

Al-Awamiyah, also spelled Awamia, (Arabic: العواميةal-ʿAwāmiyyah) is a town situated in the Al-Qatif region[2] in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. As of 2009, it has a population of about 25,500 people.[1] Al-Awamiyah is bordered by the Al-Ramis farms to the east and some other farms to the west and the south. To the north side, there is a dividing line between Al-Awamiyah and the neighboring Safwa city, so the town cannot expand any more and provide housing land for its growing population. Due to this limited land, the people move out of the town and settle in nearby neighborhoods, notably Al-Nasera which is home to almost 2500 people living in 250 homes.[3]


It is an ancient town, overlooking the Persian Gulf, in the north end of the oasis of Al-Qatif. It is located about 2.1 km south of Safwa city and about 1 km north of Al-Quddaih. It has a mangrove area.[citation needed] One of its neighborhoods is Al-Zara, which used to be a historic city and the capital of the historic province of Bahrain since the early Islamic times.[4]


Despite a ban on public demonstrations in Saudi Arabia, on 29 July 2006, a pro-Hezbollah march took place in Al-Awamiyah and al-Qatif, protesting against Israel’s military campaign against Lebanon.[5] Further protests took place on 3 August of the same year[6] and on 28 April 2009.[7]

In March 2009, at least four people, including a minor, were arrested after taking part in rallies which were organized to protest the warrant for the arrest of Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, a senior Shiite cleric and Imam of a mosque in Al-Awamiyah. He had criticised attacks against Shias traveling to the tomb of Muhammad.[8]

On 5 April 2015, a security officer was killed during a raid on suspected government opponents. According to the government, at least four citizens were detained and weapons seized.[9] However, residents claimed that 30 arrests were made. They also accuse authorities of cracking down on pro-democracy anti-government protests and using it as an excuse for the raids.[10]

In January 2016, Saudi Arabia executed the prominent Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, who had called for pro-democracy demonstrations, along with forty-seven people accused of terrorism.[11]

2017 Siege[edit]

In May 2017, Al-Awamiyah was put under full siege by the Saudi military after violence broke out due to evictions. The government blamed the violence on terrorist activities. Reports indicate that between 10 and 25 people were killed from gunfire and shelling,[12] including two infants.[13]

Residents also reported soldiers shooting at homes, cars and everyone in streets.[14][12] During the crackdown the Saudi government demolished several historical sites and many other buildings and houses in Qatif.[15][16][17]

20,000 residents were forced to flee from their homes to survive.[18][19][20] and the town was devastated by demolitions and fighting.[21]

Redevelopment Project

Without consultation with local residents, a “redevelopment project” was launched in February 2018 by the Wahhabi governor of the Eastern Province. The main goal of the project is to enhance “security solution or the tracking of armed groups and sleeper cells”.[22]


Al-Awamiyah's economy is based mainly on petroleum production and agriculture.


The town is particularly famous and known for its tomatoes as it is called Ramsi tomatoes after the name of the land it is grown in, Al Ramis.[23]


Oil pipelines surround the village from the west and north sides along with several oil wells of which some are old and others newly drilled as part of Qatif Project. Over 2 million barrels of oil pass through the village each day on the way to the Ras Tanura terminal and refinery.



The town is served by the nearby King Fahd International Airport which is 25 minutes away with a distance of 30 km from the terminal to the town.


The town can be accessed via either two exits from Dhahran-Jubail Highway; the Airport exit or Qatif's main entrance near Awjam. By March 2019, a new highway connecting the city with its neighbouring area is planned to be launched.[24]


Nearly all of the residents of Al-Awamiyah practice Twelver Shia Islam. Despite persecution by the Saudi regime, residents try to celebrate and commemorate Shia days of remembrance.

Famous people from al-Awamiyah[edit]

Ayatollah Nimr al-Nimr was executed on January 2, 2016 by the Saudi regime for his calls for democratic change. His name is praised on Al-Awamiyah's walls and his portraits hang from billboards and balconies alongside those of Husayn ibn Ali.[25]

Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, the nephew of Sheikh Nimr, was run over and arrested by Saudi authorities in 2012, and as of 15 February 2018, faces death for the same accusations.[26]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Abu-Nasr, Donna (2009-04-01). "Saudi government cracks down on Shiite dissidents". The San Diego Union-Tribune/AP. Archived from the original on 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
  2. ^ Scoville, Sheila A (1979). Sheila A. Scoville (ed.). Gazetteer of Arabia: a geographical and tribal history of the Arabian Peninsula. 1. Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt. p. 370. ISBN 978-3-201-01090-0. Retrieved 13 September 2009.
  3. ^ ar:العوامية[circular reference]
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Saudi Shi'ites stage rare anti-Israel protests". The San Diego Union-Tribune. 31 July 2006. Archived from the original on 19 October 2012. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Saudi Police Disperse Pro-Hezbollah Shiite Protest". Iran Daily. 5 August 2006. Archived from the original on October 21, 2006. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
  7. ^ "Saudi march for Hezbollah draws thousands". Gulf News. 3 May 2009. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
  8. ^ "Des hommes et des adolescents chiites maintenus au secret par les autorités saoudiennes ("Men and young Shiites held incommunicado by the Saudi authorities")" (in French). Hacktivist News Service. 27 March 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
  9. ^ Murphy, Brian (April 8, 2015). "Saudi Shiites worry about backlash from Yemen war". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  10. ^ "'It's like a war here': Saudi police raid defiant eastern province amid wider conflict with Shias". Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  11. ^ Slawson, Nikola (2 January 2016). "Saudi execution of Shia cleric sparks outrage in Middle East". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 January 2016. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Inside the Saudi town that's been under siege for three months by its own government". The Independent. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  13. ^ McKernan, Bethan (10 August 2017). "Awamiyah: Three-year-old boy dies from wounds after Saudi security forces 'open fire on family'". Independent. Archived from the original on 10 August 2017. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  14. ^ "'Almost like war zone': Saudi 'renovation' of Shiite town decried as attempt to drive residents out". RT International. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  15. ^ Editorial, Reuters. "U.N. slams erasing of "cultural heritage" in Saudi Arabia".
  16. ^ "PressTV- Saudi forces intensify attacks on Shia town".
  17. ^ "PressTV-'Riyadh erasing cultural heritage in Shia town'".
  18. ^ "Saudi man killed trying help citizens flee Awamiya: sources". Reuters. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Awamiya: Inside Saudi Shia town devastated by demolitions and fighting". BBC. 16 August 2017. Archived from the original on 25 February 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  22. ^ "New face of Awamiya reflects remedy for security issues". Saudigazette. 2019-01-07. Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-05-12. Retrieved 2009-10-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ a b "Shias are doing better in Saudi Arabia". The Economist. 2018-08-30. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2018-12-14.
  25. ^ "After Nimr al-Nimr's execution: Tension and revolt in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province: The kingdom's Shias are angry". The Economist. 16 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  26. ^ "Ali Al-Nimr: Six Years Between the Sword and Freedom". European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights. 2018-02-15. Archived from the original on 2018-11-11. Retrieved 2018-08-17.