Lights on Cultural Scene in Qatif
Emtithal Abu AlSaud - « » - 14 / 2 / 2010 - 11:47 pm

Cultural movement in Qatif has deep roots in history. Human beings settled in this region before more than five thousands years ago, and the region witnessed eras of cultural awareness in ancient times. Its distinctive geographic location which lies by the Gulf coast and its communications with religious and cultural centers in Iraq and Iran as well as other states around the world like India had contributed effectively in composing its cultural scene.

However, I am not going to talk about history today, but I will shed the light over Qatif region's cultural scene. Before the existence of official public schools in the region, there was an educational system in Qatif that was more developed that tutors who taught reading and writing. This system was supervised by a group of religious leader who taught their students reading, writing, Islamic sciences, mathematics and even astronomy. Moreover, Qatif was active in literature; especially in poetry, and many brilliant writers had appeared and contacted their counterparts in Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt.

As educational system in Saudi Arabia existed since six decades ago, cultural and literary mobility in Qatif had flourished, poets and writers interacted with the cultural revolution in the Arab World, and got involved in various literary and intellectual trends which appeared in the last century. Moreover, openness of the social structure in the region played a significant role in this involvement.

During the two past decades, Qatif region witnessed a cultural mobility that was called "the Cultural Revolution" in which all social groups had participated from both genders. Although women cultural movement had began late relatively, they made it up with more effective till they became equal with their men counterparts. However, the overwhelming feature in both is the presence of youths.

When exploring the features of such cultural mobility, we note the establishment of dozens of cultural and literary forums that hold their programs weekly or monthly in cities and villages of Qatif region. These forums were able of confronting different challenges and attracting brilliant public figures from all around the world. They, also, express Qatif's people openness who invite speakers from different sects and regions, and debate with them in a modern intellectual way.

This cultural mobility expanded to involve other various types of arts such as plastic arts, film-making, photography, theatre and puppet theatre in which Qatif had preceded on the national level.

Although the number of Qatif's writers in local newspapers is below the desired level for several reasons, they have an overwhelming presence in cultural and literary electronic forums. Surfers of such forums can observe the writers' distinctive intellectual works and writings; especially by the youth.

Furthermore, there are several pioneering cultural projects and initiatives in Qatif like the project of maintaining the waterfront, the initiative of honoring creative individuals, and "Miss Morality" contest in Safaw city. There is, also, AlDokhalah Festival in Sanabis which finished its fifth season and was attended by more than 200 thousands of visitors from different nationalities, and which employed the capabilities and energies of the regions' youths from both genders.

According to a report that was prepared by a cultural activist, people of Qatif had offered 247 of publications and twenty-two periodicals as well as twenty-five journals.

Another feature is "Ibdaa Center for Arts" which organizes significant activities in Saudi Arabia through several exhibitions, workshops and contests, and which collaborated with Saudi Aramco Oil Company in organizing the biggest artistic activity. Besides all of that, many exhibitions and activities are organized by Qatif's artists for the interest of the nation like "Bayna Sahilain; Between Two Coasts" exhibition which its proceeds were dedicated to the victims of Jeddah's floods, and "AlMhabah wa AlSalam; Love and Peace" painting which is the idea of the artist AbdulAdheem AlDhamin and in which many artists from in and outside Saudi Arabia had participated.

Women, also, contribute in Qatif's cultural and artistic development whether in cultural forums, writing prose and poetry, photography, theatre, acting or directing, and even training those skills. Qatif's female artists were able of achieving the first places in national and international contests like attaining the first place of fine arts in Saudi Arabia by Mahdiah Al Talib, and winning Al Thani Award for Photography by Zahra AlQatari.

I have started a report that documents all exhibitions, contests and cultural programs that were carried out in the region, but they were way more than to be mentioned in such report. Therefore, I offer my respect to those who are freehanded and creative, and believe that it is the duty of all members in the society; whether citizens, businessmen or institutions, to support such activities which play a significant role in world civilization.

Our expectations are great, and our ambitions are greater in presenting our society in a manner that suits us as Allah's successors on Earth.

- A speech that was delivered in the Fifth Husaini Art Exhibition; Alraheel Ela Alnoor, in AlJaroudiah, Qatif.