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Umm al-Fahm ( , ; ) is a city in the Haifa Districtmarker of Israelmarker with a population of 43,300, nearly all of whom are Arab citizens of Israel. The city is situated on the Umm al-Fahm mountain ridge, the highest point of which is Mt. Iskander (522 meters above sea level), overlooking Wadi Aramarker. Umm al-Fahm is the social, cultural and economic center for residents of the Wadi Ara and Triangle regions.


According to the Muslim historian al-Maqrizi, Umm al-Fahm (literally, Mother of Charcoal in Arabic) was established in 1265. The village was surrounded by natural forests which were used to produce charcoal. Several archaeological sites around the city date to the Muslim, Roman and Hellenistic periods and the Iron Age. In 1948, there were 4,500 inhabitants, mostly farmers, in the Umm al-Fahm area. Since the establishment of Israel, the population has grown rapidly. By 1960, Umm al-Fahm reached local council status. In 1965-1985, it was governed by elected councils. In 1985, Umm al-Fahm was officially declared a city.


According to CBS, in 2001 the ethnic makeup of the city was 100.0% Arab (99.7% Muslim), with no significant Jewish population.

There were 18,700 males and 18,000 females (36,800 total), with 51.2% of the population aged 19 years of age or younger, 18.2% between 20 and 29, 18.9% between 30 and 44, 7.8% from 45 to 59, 1.5% from 60 to 64, and 2.4% 65 years of age or older. The population growth rate in 2001 was 3.2%.


Since the establishment of Israel, Umm al-Fahm has gone from being a village to an urban center that serves as a hub for the surrounding villages. Most breadwinners make their living in the building sector. The remainder work mostly in clerical or self-employed jobs, though a few small factories have been built over the years.


According to CBS, there were 5,843 salaried workers and 1,089 self-employed in 2000. The mean monthly wage in 2000 for a salaried worker was NIS 2,855, a real change of 3.4% over the course of 2000. Salaried males had a mean monthly wage of NIS 3,192 (a real change of 4.6%) versus NIS 1,466 for females (a real change of -12.6%). The mean income for the self-employed was 4,885. 488 residents received unemployment benefits and 4,949 received an income guarantee. In 2007, the city had an unofficial 30 percent poverty rate.


According to CBS, there are a total of 17 schools and 9,106 students in the city: 12 elementary schools for 5,329 elementary school students, and 7 high schools for 3,777 high school students. In 2001, 50.4% of 12th grade students received a Bagrut matriculation certificate.

Politics and government

In 1999, 500 residents were hurt in riots protesting government expropriation of lands. In September 2000, rioting at the onset of the Second Intifada left three dead and over 100 wounded.

Since the 1990s, the municipality has been run by the Northern Islamic Movement. Ex-mayor Sheikh Raed Salah was arrested in 2003 on charges of raising millions of dollars for Hamas. He was freed after two years in prison.

Sheikh Hashem Abd al-Rahman was elected mayor in 2007, and replaced in November 2008 by Khaled Aghbariyya.

Culture, sport and tourism

The Umm al-Fahm Art Gallery was established in 1996 as a venue for contemporary art exhibitions and a home for original Arab and Palestinian art. The gallery operates under the auspices of the El-Sabar Association. Yoko Ono held an exhibition there in 1999, and some of her art is still on show. The gallery offers classes to both Arab and Jewish children and exhibits the work of both Arab and Jewish artists. In 2007, the municipality granted the gallery a large plot of land on which a museum of Arab art will be built.The architect is Senan Abdelqader.

The city has several football clubs; Hapoel Umm al-Fahm currently play in Liga Artzit, the third tier of Israeli football. Ironi Sayid Umm al-Fahm play in Liga Alef (the fourth tier). Maccabi Umm al-Fahm play in Liga Bet (the fifth tier), and Beitar Umm al-Fahm play in Liga Gimel (the sixth tier).

Green Carpet is an association established by the residents to promote local tourism and environmental projects in and around Umm al-Fahm.

See also


Further reading

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