Qatif (Arabic: القطيف al-QaTiif) is a historic coastal city and oasis located on the western shore of the Arabian/Persian Gulf in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, some 13km north of the port city of Dammam and southwest of major oil port Ras Tanura. The oasis covers a large area that includes many other traditional Saudi villages such as Saihat, Safwa, Anak, Abu maan, AlNabya, Tarut Island and Awamia. Qatif is famous for its dates and fish.
It is one of the centers of the Eastern Province’s large Shi’ite Muslim communities and as a result has lived in somewhat
precarious relations politically with the Sunni government of the country. Blessed with abundant fresh-water springs, the historic oasis area shows its first archeological evidence of settlement beginning about 3500 BC, and it functioned for centuries as the main town and port in this region of the Gulf. In fact, it was called Cateus by the Greeks, and some early European maps even labeled the entire present-day Gulf as the “Sea of El Catif“.
Qatif oasis and the nearby island of Tarut are some of the most interesting tourist and archeological sites in the Kingdom. Up until 1521 Qatif belonged to the political entity known as Bahrain, along with Al-Hasa and the the present-day Bahrain islands. Traditionally reliant on agriculture, Qatif has become famous in the oil industry recently, mainly due to the mega Qatif Project.