Qatif region, which lies on the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, is distinguished by its civil and cultural activity which dates back to many centuries ago. It had many figures who were interested in science, literature and culture, but, unfortunately, many of their works and writings were not preserved because people and scholars were leaning to pure religious sciences at that time.
Currently, Qatif has several private libraries for which their owners collect many books, researches and manuscripts in diverse cultural and scientific fields. This survey will introduce only five of Qatif’s significant private libraries.
Sheikh Hasan bin Musa AlSaffar Library
Sheikh Hasan AlSaffar Library is the most prominent private library in Qatif region, and Sheikh AlSaffar collects its books by himself from inside and outside Saudi Arabia. It includes about ten thousands of titles distributed in 12658 volumes of diverse religious, cultural and scientific fields.
AlSaffar established this library in 1995 but it is not his first one. He had established four other libraries in different states since he was ten years old in 1968 till 1995, but he did not keep them and left them for the people of those states to benefit from them.
Although Sheikh Hasan AlSaffar Library is private, it is opened for all visitors and researchers all along the year except Fridays without having to make a prior appointment. Sheikh AlSaffar works on preparing a specialized library for children.
Ali Ma’atouk AlHurz Library
This large library is located in Umm AlHamam in Qatif, and owned by Ali Ma’atouk AlHurz who started collecting its books when he was thirteen years old in 1977. It includes various Sunni and Shiite books on interpretations of Qur’an as well as books of Hadith, Islamic jurisprudence, philosophy, social sciences and literature. In this library, there is also a set of periodicals which some of them were ceased, and several series of books.
AlHurz had bought most of his books from book fairs in Bahrain, Riyadh, Sharjah and Cairo. He, also, buys books from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan. He believes that buying from outside Saudi Arabia is sometimes better because it protects you from being exploited by the greedy sellers in Saudi Arabia.
AlHurz Library, as other Qatif’s private libraries except Sheikh AlSaffar’s, is not opened for all visitors and researchers all the time. However, Ali AlHurz welcomes all researchers and visitors who want to benefit from his library by making a prior appointment whether they are from Qatif or not and whether they are Shiites or Sunnis.
Abu Sibawaih Mohammad Ali AlNaser Library and Museum
Abu Subawaih AlNaser is from Qudaih town in Qatif region, and started collecting books since 1960 when he was fifteen years old. Unlike the usual, he did not travel to buy his books which are about ten thousand volumes. He seizes the opportunities of book fairs in Dhahran and Riyadh and when he visits the two holy mosques to buy books.
AlNaser, also, wrote more than thirty unpublished books; some of which are “The Public Figures of Qudaih” and “The History of Qudaih” which he had worked on for more than forty-five years. He was offered to have them published by some intellectuals but he is going slowing in this step because he seeks quality.
AlNaser owns more than thirty copies of Qur’an and some of them are ancient and valued at eight to eleven thousand U.S Dollars as well as several original manuscripts.
Abu Sibawaih Library and Museum, also, includes many ancient antiques that date back to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years. It has a huge number of different kinds of ancient clocks; some of them are rare and considered priceless by their owner.
Sheikh AbdulHameed AlKhutti Library
Sheikh AbdulHameed AlKhutti was the former Judge of Qatif for twenty-seven years since 1975 till he died 2001. He had wide relations and communicated with many intellectuals of different faiths and sects.
Sheikh AlKhutti made his library, which is located in Qatif city, an endowment for the public to benefit from it. The library is opened in the evenings of Thursdays and Fridays for visitors as it was stated in AlKhutti’s will. However, it is sometimes opened during the rest of the week for specialized researchers. AlKhutti Library includes about 2165 books and several rare manuscripts, and borrowing is not allowed.
Sheikh AbdulQader Abu AlMakarem Library
(Imam Mohammad bin AlHassan Library)
Sheikh Abu AlMakarem started collecting books since 1960 when he was seventeen years old. His library, which is located in AlAwammia, includes about 5000 titles, and is opened for public.
Abu AlMakarem traveled for different cities and states to buy his books; he went to Dammam, Makkah, Bahrain, Syria and Iraq. He is, also, interested in recording audios of speeches, lectures and wedding and funeral ceremonies, and that made him own a good audio library.