• Keywords: Saudi Arabia, Cultural Landscapes, Oasis, Al-Qatif, Qasr Darin, Tarut citadel, Al-Rafea archaeological dig, Al-Dahna Desert.

1. OFFICIAL CLASSIFICATIONS AND CATEGORIES

1.1 National and International Classification Lists

Al-Qatif oasis is not in any list.

1.2. Cultural Landscape Category/Tipology

Organically evolved landscapes
Relict (or fossil) landscape

1.3. Description and Justification by Med-O-Med

Description

Qatif or Al-Qatif City is located in the Eastern Province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It lies on 50 N, and 26 E. Qatif is 20 kms north to Dammam – the capital of the eastern province-and 40 kms north to Dhahran, the capital of Saudi oil industry. It lies along the Persian Gulf, over Al-Qatif petroleum field and is bounded by the Bayadh Desert to the north. Qatif extends from Ras Tanura and Jubail in the north to Dammam in the south. Qatif oasis consists of: Qatif City, Saihat, Safwa, Al-jish, Um Al-hamam, Al-Qudaih, Al-Awamiya, Island of Tarut, Anak, Al-Mallaha, Hillat Mihaish, Al-Jarudiyah, Al-Khwaildiyah, Al-Tawbi, Al-Ajam, Al-Nabyah, and Um Al-Sahek. In general, oases are considered by UNESCO and Med-O-Med as sample of the human genius in action. Skills, and particularly traditional know-how in coping with a hostile environment that is scarce in resources, appeared in the development of techniques enabling water (and land) to be used more judiciously, whether available permanently or cyclically. Basis on the UNESCO definition of Cultural Landscape (UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Article 1, 1972, Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, 2008), considering this region as a result of “the combined works of nature and of man”, Med-O-Med resolve to value this site as a Cultural Landscape because of: -Its Natural Heritage Components: Al-Qatif is a green oasis with rich agricultural soil. Qatif itself is surrounded by a jungle of palm trees. Springs are abundant in the Oasis of Qatif. On the East, there lies the Persian Gulf. Its warm and calm waters are rich of marine life, fishes, shrimps, and pearls. Also, some springs are found in the midst of its waters. On the west lies, Al-Dahna Desert with its golden sands intermingled with little rocky heights. -Its Cultural Heritage Components: Qatif is the center of one of the most important fishing and agricultural areas in the north-eastern Kingdom. The history of Qatif dates back to 3500 BC in the late Bronze Age. Known by other names, such as the most famous “Al-Khatt”, the area has been inhabited by a great diversity of people. Its location in the midst of one of the largest oases in the world, famous for its springs and palm trees, has ensured work in farming and government service. Accumulation of the archaeological evidence in this area (Qasr Darin, Tarut citadel, Al-Rafea archaeological dig) points to the probability that Eastern Arabia play a decisive role in cross-cultural contracts during the third millennium B.C.

2. NAME / LOCATION / ACCESSIBILITY

  • Current denomination Qatif or Al-Qatif (Arabic: القطيف‎).
  • Current denomination Qatif or Al-Qatif (Arabic: القطيف‎).
  • Original denomination Qatif or Al-Qatif (Arabic: القطيف‎).
  • Popular denomination Qatif or Al-Qatif (Arabic: القطيف‎).
  • Address: Al-Qatif City is located in the Eastern Province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatif Governorate.
  • Geographical coordinates: 26.556°N 49.996°E
  • Area, boundaries and surroundings: Qatif or Al-Qatif is a governorate and urban area located in Eastern Province, 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 has its own municipality and includes the Qatif downtown and many other smaller cities and towns.
  • Access and transport facilities: Airport: Air travel is provided by King Fahd International Airport, the distance from the terminal to the city center is 30 km (19 mi). Highway: 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).
  • Facilities:

    Fish Market: Qatif fishing port attracts catches from all ports of the Arabian Gulf. The Fish Market opens after sunset prayer and closes at 10:30 pm. Khamee’s Market: Every Thursday morning, Qateef bustles with the transactions of Khamee’s market, where stands are placed among regular stores and peddlers roam. A wide range of goods is available, with folkloric handicrafts, made during the week, displayed side-by-side modern imports.

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Al-Qatif Oasis Cultural Landscape (SAUDI ARABIA)

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Al-Qatif Oasis Cultural Landscape (SAUDI ARABIA) 26.556000, 49.996000 Al-Qatif Oasis Cultural Landscape (SAUDI ARABIA) (Directions)

 

3. LEGAL ISSUES

Property regime
  • Public
  • Owner: Saudi Arabian Government.
  • Body responsible for the maintenance: Saudi Arabian Government.

4. HISTORY

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, 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 or Katif. 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. 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. 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). 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. 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 and ‘Uqair, though they could not expel the Portuguese from the island of Bahrain. 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.

5. GENERAL DESCRIPTION

5.1. Natural heritage

  • Heritage: Rural
  • Geography: Wetland
  • Site topography: Natural
  • Climate and environmental conditions: 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 (36F and 64F). 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.
Springs are abundant in the Oasis of Qatif,
Land uses and economical activities:
Qatif is the center of one of the most important fishing and agricultural areas in the north-eastern Kingdom. Since the development of the oil fields in the late 1940s, Al-Qatif has lost its status as an important port to Ad-Dammam. In addition to several oil wells, Al-Qatif has oil-gas separator plants, pipelines, and large residential quarters for workers. Its inhabitants are mainly fishermen, farmers, businessmen and government employees.
Summary of Landscapes values and characteristics:

Qatif is a green oasis with rich agricultural soil. Qatif itself is surrounded by a jungle of palm trees. On the west lies, Al-Dahna Desert with its golden sands intermingled with little rocky heights. Accumulation of the archaeological evidence in this area (Qasr Darin, Tarut citadel, Al-Rafea archaeological dig) points to the probability that Eastern Arabia play a decisive role in cross-cultural contracts during the third millennium B.C

5.2. Cultural Heritage

A) Related to current constructions, buildings and art pieces in general

In the case of gardens: original and current style:
It is not the case.
B) Related to ancient remains

  • Archaeological components:

    The history of Qatif dates back to 3500 BC in the late Bronze Age. Known by other names, such as the most famous “Al-Khatt”, the area has been inhabited by a great diversity of people. Its location in the midst of one of the largest oases in the world, famous for its springs and palm trees, has ensured work in farming and government service. After the discovery of oil, many residents sought employment with Saudi ARAMCO. Accumulation of the archaeological evidence points to the probability that Eastern Arabia play a decisive role in cross-cultural contracts during the third millennium B.C. The small island of Tarut of the coast of Qatif, appears to have boasted a very active seaport, which was involved in wide spread trading network. Eastern Arabia coastline could well control a far- flung traffic in the trade among the civilizations, which existed 5000 years ago. During the last century, Qatif was the inland oasis supporting the fishermen villages of Al – Khobar and Dammam, now full-fledged towns. -Qasr Darin: Qasr Darin (also known as Qasr Abdul Wahhab Pasha) is an impressive structure overlooking the Arabian Gulf. In 1884, the wealthy Muhammed ibn Al ‘Abdul Wahhab Al Fayhani came to the area from Qatar and built the castle over settlements which date to the dawn of Islam. He traded in pearls, which were exported to many countries at that time. -Tarut Citadel: Few origins of Tarut Citadel are not known for certain, except that it was built over 5000-year old settlements. Legends envisage a variety of historical images. One story is that the Citadel was built between 1515-1521 A.D. by the people of Qatif or Tarut for protection against Portuguese attackers. Another is that the Portuguese built it for protection against Turkish attacks. After being forced to surrender in 1559 A.D., the Portuguese fled Tarut for the Island of Awal. Tarut Citadel is surrounded by a wide wall of terracotta material, gypsum, and stones. Crab-shaped in its totality, the 9-meter-high wall from bottom to top ranged between 1-2.5 meters in width. Bridges, over the entire length of the wall and connecting 11 high towers and abutments, were used as secret passages during wartime. -Al-Rafea archaeological dig: There are many discoveries that go back to 3000 B.C, the most important one is Al-Rafea archaeological dig. The Al-Rafea dig is 1.5 km south-east of Taroot town. It contains many cemeteries. A Denmark mission made some surveys in 1964 in TAROOT and found some early tools. Some of them date back as early as 3000 B.C, such as some unscripted pots. Scripted stones show Samarian art, and some stamps were also found.

  • Traces in the environment of human activity: -The agriculture system of the oases modify the environment of the arid territories. -Archaeological remains.
C) Related to intangible, social and spiritual values

  • Population, ethnic groups: The Qatif area contains a population of 300,000 people scattered over distinct regions.The Qatif region is the largest concentration of Shia Islam in Saudi Arabia, less than 3% of Qatif are Sunni Muslims. Qatif is the centre of the Shiite population in Saudi Arabia.
  • Languages and dialects: Arabic
  • Lifestyle, believing, cults, traditional rites: The villages are inhabited by farmers, and the coastal areas by fishermen. There are vast desert expanses that are sparsely inhabited. The city contains more than thirteen schools for boys and girls, a 300-bed general hospital, health centers and a 40-bed specialist hospital. There is a Health Institute for boys and nursing institute for girls.

5.3. Quality

Quality of the night sky, light pollution and possibility to observe the stars:
Oases are privileged sites to breath in silence, to find ourselves and to observe the pure beauty of nature, including the stars that are brighting in the night sky, free of light pollution.
Perspectives/Views/ Points of interest/Setting:

-Al Qatif oasis and all its villages. -The palm groves. -Al-Dahna Desert. -Archaeological remains: Qasr Darin, Tarut citadel, Al-Rafea archaeological dig.

6. VALUES

Tangible

  • Aesthetic
  • Archaeological
The main tangible values of "Al-Qatif Oasis Cultural Landscape" are: -Aesthetic: There are different elements in the site that contribute to compose a beatiful landscape: the palm groves of the oasis, all the villages scattered around the territoy, the desert... -Archaeological: Accumulation of the archaeological evidence in this area (Qasr Darin, Tarut citadel, Al-Rafea archaeological dig) points to the probability that Eastern Arabia play a decisive role in cross-cultural contracts during the third millennium B.C.

Intangible

  • Historical
  • Mythical
  • Religious
The main intangible values of "Al-Qatif Oasis Cultural Landscape" are: -Historical: The history of Qatif dates back to 3500 BC in the late Bronze Age. Known by other names, such as the most famous "Al-Khatt", the area has been inhabited by a great diversity of people. -Mythical: An oasis could be considered (according to UNESCO) as an image of the garden of Eden. It is the practical expression of a mythical idea. -Religious: The Qatif region is the largest concentration of Shia Islam in Saudi Arabia, less than 3% of Qatif are Sunni Muslims. Qatif is the centre of the Shiite population in Saudi Arabia. -Social significance: The oasis enjoys a unique cultural heritage and a society rich in native custom and tradition with social significance. The living heritage is composed of practices that are the result of slow, patient adaptation to the hostility of the environment and the scarcity of its resources.
Authenticity:
The history of Qatif dates back to 3500 BC in the late Bronze Age.
Universality:
Med-O-Med describes the universality of the site according to the UNESCO criteria defined for Cultural Landscapes: iii) Al-Qatif bears an exceptional testimony to the cultural tradition linked to the area. iv) The site is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates significant stages in human history: archaeological remains of Qasr Darin, Tarut citadel, Al-Rafea archaeological dig are good expresions of that. v) Al-Qatif oasis is a sample of a traditional human settlement and land-use, which is representative of its culture, and the human interaction with the environment. It is represented in the way of farming and the irrigation system. vii) The natural area contained in this Cultural Landscape, including the villages, the palm groves, the desert, are of natural beauty and aesthetic importance.
Values linked to the Islamic culture and civilisation:
-The agricultural style of the palm groves and other crops of the oases and the irrigation system. -The Qatif region is the largest concentration of Shia Islam in Saudi Arabia, less than 3% of Qatif are Sunni Muslims. Qatif is the centre of the Shiite population in Saudi Arabia.

7. ENCLOSURES

Historical and graphical data (drawings, paintings, engravings, photographs, literary items…):

Al-Qatif Oasis Cultural Landscape is one of all of the cultural landscapes of Morocco which is included in The Cultural Landscape inventory runned by Med-O-Med.

Bibliography:

http://whc.unesco.org/venice2002 http://www.qatifoasis.com/ http://www.the-saudi.net/saudi-arabia/qatif/Qatif%20City%20-%20Saudi%20Arabia.htm http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/212411?uid=3737952&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=21102450390621 -Scott, D. A. (1994). Directory of Wetlands in the Middle East. ISBN: 2831702704. IUCN, WWF, IWRB, BirdLife International and RAMSAR. -UNESCO. (2001). Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. World Heritage Committee. 25 session. Helsinki, Finland. -UNESCO. (2002). Cultural Landscapes: the Challenges of Conservation. Associated Workshops, World Heritage. Ferrara, Italy.

Compiler Data: Sara Martínez Frías.