The two oases of Qatif and AlAhssa lie by the western coast of the Persian Gulf at the east of Saudi Arabia. They were inhabited since more than 4000 B.C. and many civilizations and dynasties had emerged in them. Therefore, the archeologists considered it the most ancient area in the whole Gulf region.
This area was called with several names that were mentioned by many historians like AlMas’udi, Yaqut AlHamawi, Ibn Battuta who indicated that it is rich with palm trees. Some of those names are Qatif, AlKatt, Cateus, Hajar, Bahrain and AlAhssa, besides other names that Qatif and AlAhssa share because they have a unified political history.
Each of those names was derived from other word. Qatif is derived from “Qattf”, which means gathering fruits from trees, and which indicates that agriculture in this region is prosperous. However, AlKatt is derived from “Chateni” which is the name of a group settled in the region anciently while it was called Cateus by the Greeks. As for Hajar, it is ascribed to Hajar bint AlMukafkaf whereas Bahrain is attributes to AlAsfar Lake in the east of AlAhssa.
This region was established on the same location of AlKatt city which was founded by Ardashir Babak in the first half of the third century AD. It witnessed the civilizations of Caledonians, Phoenicians, Sumerians, Banu AbdulQais, Portuguese and Ottomans as well as Semites, Tasam, Jedais and Qarmatians.
Moreover, this region had a great significance and its culture intermingled with the neighboring cultures because it was the commercial link between all of them due to its strategic location which connects the three continents of the ancient world; Asia, Africa and Europe.
Qatif and AlAhssa were ruled by many kings in the ancient and Pre-Islamic eras and were under the control of many invaders. However, they flourished again when Alexander the Great destroyed the Persian Empire. At that time, this region was called Aljarha’a and became one of the richest cities in the world. Its people used to decorate their houses and doors with gold, silver and jewels.
The prosperity in this region continued till the Romans controlled the south of the Arabian Peninsula and transferred the world trade from the Gulf region to them, so it lost its commercial importance and affluence.
Then, several Arab tribes migrated to it and settled with AbdulQais tribes which resisted the Persian control. However, these attempts resulted in great massacres and the region remained under their control till it embraced Islam in 6AH/627AD when Prophet Mohammad sent AlAla’ bin AlHadhrami with a letter to AlMundir AlAbddi who embraced Islam and called his people to join him. Most of them entered Islam but few others remained on their religion.
Some historians agree that Shiism in Qatif region revealed when it was ruled by Aban bin Saeed Al’As during the Prophet’s era and by Amr bin Salamah during Imam Ali’s rule.
At the Umayyad Era, Kharijites invaded Qatif region and committed massacres, but AbdulMalik bin Marwan, the Umayyad Caliph, defeated them and included the region under his rule. During the Abbasid dynasty era, the Qarmatians dynasty emerged led by Yahya bin AlMahdi and Abu Saeed Aljannabi who gathered a huge army of nomadic tribes. Those tribes were urged to invade Qatif region and they were induced with money, then, one of their rulers invaded Makkah and moved the Black Stone of Ka’abah to Qatif, and it left there until 950AD.
The Abbasid authority negotiated the Qarmatians in recognizing its power, turning the Black Stone back and ending robbing the pilgrims, and it succeeded.
The Uyunis dynasty had a great influence in Qatif region after the deterioration of the Qarmatian dynasty. It was established by AlFadhl bin Abdullah AlUyuni with the assistance of the Abbasids and Seljuks. After the assassination of Abdullah AlUyuni, the region was divided into Qatif and AlAhssa. This dynasty went through many internal disturbances that resulted in its fall and the establishment of other dynasties and powers like the Usfurids dynasty and the Portuguese, then, the Ottoman Empire.
During the Ottomans rule which lasted until 1670AD, people suffered from persecution and administrative corruption, then, it weakened and the local rulers who were assigned by the Ottomans themselves started to have their self-governance till Banu Khalid; who are some Arab tribes, dominated the region and dismissed the Turkish ruler. Then, Banu Khalid disputed with Najd people who tried to seize the region until King AbdulAziz Al Saud entered Qatif region, which was overstrained because of wars, peacefully in 1913AD/1331AH. Since then, Qatif and AlAhssa region entered a new historical era in which it changed to modern cities as oil had been discovered in 1933AD/1352AH.