The connection between Qatif region and other nations in old times resulted in intermixing of cultures and in appearance of many scientists and thinkers. In this region, the alphabetic letters that Arabs used were invented by the Phoenicians and that was proved by the archeological epigraphy.
Education in Qatif region used to depend on tutors and Islamic preaching schools which represent an important part of non-official fields of education in the region before the establishment of official schools. Those included private seminars for studying and memorizing Qura’an as well as teaching the fundamentals of reading and writing, besides mathematics.
Moreover, education used to have traditions and customs like celebrating the day of joining those schools. In these celebrations, candy, bread and yoghurt were given out, the incense was burnt and rose water was sprinkled. At graduation, all of those traditions were made besides butchering carcasses, and the student was showed around the town’s neighborhoods with some students who enchant for him. These enchants were called AlTahmeedah which is derived from AlHamd; thankfulness.
Of course, those traditions and customs varied between boys and girls according to social conditions that did not deprive females from receiving education by female tutors. In 1346AH/1927, Majalis AlMa’arif; Schools of Knowledge, in AlAhssa were established for non-official curricula education and they were limited to males. Then, official education for males was adopted in 1356AH/1937, till King Fahad bin AbdulAziz Al Saud, then the Minister of Education, established the General Presidency for Girls’ Education in 1379AH/1960.
Even after the establishment of official schools, the non-official religious schools were still demanded in which Islamic laws and sciences were taught, besides linguistics, history, literature and more.
Qatif region encountered an active scientific movement in the beginnings of the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. It contained several religious schools in which many scholars had graduated and students from different regions and close states were taught there. Even more, Qatif used to be called “The minor Najaf” because it was full of scholars and intellectuals who enriched the Arab world with their intellectual writings.
In Qatif, the first official school for boys was established in 1367AH/1948. Then, people perceived the benefits of learning and that resulted in taking care of educating females by establishing the first school for girls in Qatif in 1379AH/1960.
As the schools spread all over the Kingdom, illiteracy percentage went down and a distinctive generation appeared; of academics, teachers and specialists who hold high qualifications in different specializations and scientific degrees. They attained their degrees from the state universities but others attained them from foreign universities when they were sent abroad by the government and the Saudi Arabian Oil Company “Aramco”. Many of them occupied significant positions in governmental jobs and private companies.
Undoubtedly, the succession of civilizations over this region for five-thousand years subjected it to various cultures which were passed by generations through the years whether they were literature, customs or traditions.
The literary cultural heritage in Qatif region formed a strong bases on which the literary development depended before the appearance of modern education. This region presented many famous Arab poets like Turfa bin AlAbd, AlJaroud bin AlMundhir and Ali bin AlMuqarab since the pre-Islamic eras and through the Islamic, Umayyad and Abbasids eras.
Nowadays, Qatif includes a well-informed generation with literature and heritage. This generation is intellectually open to the latest developments in the Arab World though what is published in newspapers and magazines. They were influenced by the media which contributed in the renewing Qatif’s poetry in the thirties and forties of the last century.
Moreover, the region has a distinctive cultural movement that can be observed through the many writers, poets and publications whether books and specialized periodicals, as well as the presence of regular weekly and monthly cultural forums in which intellectuals deal with various issues, besides several private committees concerned with arts, drama, artistic production and acting.