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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Al-Qatif is located in Saudi Arabia
Coordinates: 26°56′N 50°01′E / 26.933°N 50.017°E / 26.933; 50.017
Country  Saudi Arabia
Province Eastern Province (Ash Sharqiyah)
Population (2009)
 - Metro population_total = 138,920
Time zone +3 GMT
For other uses, see Katif.

Qatif or Al-Qatif (also spelled Qateef or Al-Qateef; Arabic: القطيفAl-Qaṭīf) is a historic, coastal oasis region located on the western shore of the Persian Gulf in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. It extends from Ras Tanura and Jubail in the north to Dammam in the south, and from the Persian Gulf in the east to King Fahd International Airport in the west. This region includes the city of Qatif as well many smaller towns and villages.



The historic oasis area shows its first archeological evidence of settlement beginning about 3500 BC. It was known by other names, such as Al-Khatt (Arabic: الخَطّ‎), immortalized in the poetry of `Antara ibn Shaddad, Tarafa ibn Al-`Abd, Bashar ibn Burd (in his famous Ba'yya), and others. The word "Khatty" became the preferred "kenning" for "spear" in traditional poetic writing until the dawn of the modern era, supposedly because the region was famous for spear making, just as "muhannad" ("of India") was the preferred kenning for "sword". The older name also survives as the eponym of several well-known local families ("Al-Khatti", spelled variously in English).

Qatif functioned for centuries as the main town and port in this region of the Persian Gulf. In fact, it was called Cateus by the Greeks, and some early European maps even labeled the entire present-day Persian Gulf as the "Sea of El Catif". Qatif oasis and the nearby island of Tarout are some of the most interesting tourist and archeological sites in the Kingdom, which reflects the importance of the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula in the past.

Until 1521 and Ottoman rule, Qatif belonged to the historical region known as the Province of Bahrain, along with Al-Hasa and the present-day Bahrain islands.

In 899 the Qarmatians conquered the region with the oases of Qatif and Al-Hasa. They declared themselves independent and reigned from al-Mu'miniya near modern Hofuf until 1071.[1] The Buyids of western Persia raided Qatif in 988. From 1071 until 1253 the Uyunids ruled the region first from the city of "al-Hasa" (predecessor to modern Hofuf) and later from Qatif. In 1253 the Usfurids rose from Al-Hasa and ruled during the struggle of Qays with the Hormuz for control of the coast. Probably at about this time, Qatif became the main port for the mainland surpassing 'Uqair in importance for the trade and thus became the capital of the Usfurids.[1] Ibn Battuta, visited Qatif in 1331 and found it a large and prosperous city inhabited by Arab tribes whom he described as "extremist Shi`is" (rafidiyya Ghulat)[2]. Power shifted in 1440 to the Jabrids of the Al-Hasa oasis. In 1515 the Portuguese conquered Hormuz and sacked Qatif in 1520, killing the Jabrid ruler Muqrin ibn Zamil.[1] The Portuguese invaded the island of Bahrain and stayed there for the next eighty years. The ruler of Basra extended his power to Qatif in 1524 but ultimately in 1549 the Ottomans took over the whole region, building forts at Qatif[3] and 'Uqair, though they could not expel the Portuguese from the island of Bahrain.[1] In 1680 the Al Humayd of the Banu Khalid took the by now weak garrison of the Ottomans in Hofuf. In a battle at Ghuraymil, south of Qatif, the Banu Khalid lost their rule to the new "First Saudi State" in 1790. In 1818 the Saudi State was destroyed in the Ottoman-Saudi War and the commander of the mostly Egyptian troops, Ibrahim Pasha, took control of Hofuf, only to evacuate it the next year and return to the west coast. The Humayd regained control until the Banu Khalid were finally defeated in 1830 by the "Second Saudi State" who now took control of the whole region. The Ottomans moved in again in 1871 not to be expelled until 1913 when Ibn Saud finally established the Saudi rule in the Eastern Province.


Qatif enjoys a continental climate with temperatures approaching 49 degrees Celsius (120.2 F) in the summer and an average humidity of 75%. In winter, temperatures range between 2 and 18 degrees Celsius (64F and 77F). During the months of May and June, warm seasonal winds called albwarh affect the region. The rest of the year, the moist southern winds, or alcos, bring humidity. There is little rainfall.


The Qatif region is the largest concentration of Shia Islam in Saudi Arabia. Since 2005, the government eases the restrictions on commemorating Day of Ashura in public.[4]

As of 2004, the total population of Qatif was 874,573, ranking as one of the ten most populous counties in Saudi Arabia. Qatif has one of the lowest numbers of non-Saudi residents in the kingdom (only 59,808).

Most of its residents are businesspeople, farmers, fishermen, and government employees. As of 2005 the wider Qatif area has over 300,000 residents.[5]


Traditionally reliant on agriculture, fish, and trading, Qatif has become famous in the oil industry recently, mainly due to the giant Qatif project, which produces 800,000 barrels of oil each day, making Qatif possibly the most oil-producing city in the world. Other petroleum industries within the city include gas separator plants and pipeline facilities. Pipelines are distributed around Qatif area which had been an obstacle for urban expanding that resulted in removal of farms or reclamation of the gulf.

In addition to its involvement in the oil industry and commerce, the Qatif region has a thriving agricultural sector, producing a wide range of crops, including dates (e.g. khlass, khunaizi, maji, hallao, and khsab al-asfour), limes, sweet bananas, grapes, pomegranates, figs, tomatoes, okra, radishes, and onions. Qatif is also the main supplier of fish to the kingdom as well as the largest fishing center in the Persian Gulf region.

The Qatif coastline is rich with shrimp and many varieties of fish, especially the safi (Siganus species), kan`ad (Scomberomorus commerson), hamoor (grouper), shi`ri, badeh, and mayd varieties. Perhaps, its fish market is the largest in the middle east.


  • Qatif is well-known for its traditional markets (suqs) such as the weekly Thursday Market "Suq Alkhamees" and "Suq Waqif"
  • Beautiful esplanade along its shore
  • Tarout Island castle


Qatif enjoys excellent connections with other Saudi urban centers through highways mainly the Dhahran-Jubail Highway which runs across Qatif, and Abu Hadriyah Highway which serves as a western border for Qatif and separates it from King Fahd International Airport. It is also close to the causeway that connects the kingdom with the nation of Bahrain (about 35 miles). Air service is provided at the near by King Fahd International Airport.

Towns & Villages

List of towns and villages forming Qatif county:


  1. ^ a b c d William Facey, The Story of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, 1994, ISBN 1 900988 18 6
  2. ^ -which is not.Ibn Battuta, Rihla Ibn Battuta Beirut: Dar Sadir, 1964 pp. 279-80
  3. ^ Saudi Aramco World Vol.25 #5, sept/okt 1974
  4. ^ Human Rights Watch (Denied Dignity)
  5. ^ Bradley, John R. Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis. Palgrave Macmillan 2005. 80.

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel


Qatif is a city in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. It is an ancient city, more than 3000 years old. It was the first home for ancient Phoenicians, some of whom emmigrated to the Eastern Mideterranian.

Get in

King Fahd International Airport is only 25 kilometers from Qatif city center. Qatif is located almost in the middle of the highway stretching from Dhahran (Saudi Aramco's headquarters), and Ras Tanura(Saud Arabia's main oil exporting terminal on the Arabian Gulf).

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