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Tarut Island:
The Geography, History, Antiquities,
Landmarks, and Social Life


Murtadha AlRuwaie


Daniel Freeman

August 03, 2007

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Copyright © 2007 

  All  rights  reserved.  Granted  to  copy  and 

distribute this treatise. Viewers are allowed 
to  take  any  quotation  from  the  treatise 
from this source. 

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Introduction 7

Chapter 1 Geography 9

Location 10

Towns and Villages 11

Population and Area 11

Climate 12

Chapter 2 History 13

The Correct Name 15

Civilizations and countries 16

The Ethnicity of its People 17

Chapter 3 Antiquities 19

Antiquities of Island 20

Discovery of Antiquities 21

The Famous Discovered Statue 22

Unknown Fate Statue 23

Chapter 4 Landmarks 24

Section 1 Archaeological Features 25

First Archaeological Features in Deerah Town 25

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Deerah Town 26

Tarut Castle 27

Ein Al-Awda 28

Pasha Bath 29

Donkeys Bath 29

Archaeological Features in other Parts of

Second 30
Deerah Town

Al-Khoder Mosque alrobaieyah town 30

Mohammed Abdelwahab Castle 30

Section 2 Dareen Port and Beach 31

Section 3 Fish Market in Tarut town 32

Section 3 Farms 33

Section 4 The Traveling Markets 34

Chapter 5 Social Life 35

Section 1 Social Behavior 36

The Treatment of Women 37

Section 2 Religious and Traditional Celebrations 38

First Religious Holy Days 38

Eid ul-Fitr 38

Eid ul-Adha 39

Mawlid days 39

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Second Happiness Festivals 40

Festival Alkerkiaan 40

Festival Aldokhalah 41

Section 3 Mourning Holy Days 42

Death of Islamic Leaders 42

Grieving for the Dead 43

Section 4 Wedding 44

Conclusion 52

Works cited 53

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Through the ages, since the start of creation and the

presence of human beings on earth, people have tried to find the

best way to live by observing the world around them and trying
to organize society. How to find food was the first step for man.
He usually traveled from place to place (a nomad) trying to find
food so that he could settle down. When he settled and started
community organization, he made rules and systems, which
produced customs and culture. The first system was a family
system that evolved into tribes as community. As tribes began to
expand, the need for a government system was apparent. During
this period, civilizations began to form where peoples from many
countries were colonized and transformed into huge empires. The
world was divided between settled lands, colonies for empires, or
land that was waiting for people to settle on it. Knowing this past
will help you understand about Tarut Island and reading about it
will be more enjoyable, wonderful, diversified and useful to you
as you learn about my hometown.

Tarut is a historic small island, which is located in the

Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf and it has
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survived for thousands of years. Tarut Island passed through
several civilizations and was part of many empires and nations.
Many of its antiquities are still being discovered. In addition, its
castle, Tarut Castle, has survived and was built on the rubbles of
past structures from an event five thousand years ago. Its port,
Dareen Port, was a trade center between India, China, and
Africa's eastern coast. In conclusion, we will remember about the
Tarut people's social life, which is similar to other communities in
the Arabian Gulf. The Shiite religion, Gulf culture and Saudi
customs have heavily influenced Tarut Island's social life

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Chapter 1  Geography


Tarut is a historic island. It is the second longest island in the

Persian Gulf – the Arabian Gulf – after the Kingdom of Bahrain which is
the biggest island in the Gulf. Tarut is located in a quiet corner six
kilometers or 3.72 miles from the coast of the Arabian Gulf at the latitude
of 26° north and a longitude of 50° east, approximately, and in the Eastern
Province of Saudi Arabia. It extends from Ras Tanura in the north to
Qatif in the west. It also is connected to Qatif by two causeways.  

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Towns and Villages

The island includes many smaller towns and villages such as Tarut
town, Sanabes, Darren, Robaieyah, Alzour, Turkeya, Almhaddoud, and
Almazora. Tarut, the largest town, includes the districts of Deerah,
Aldshah, Alouqaf, Aredh Aljabl, Alvseel, Alhuwami, Furiq Al-ahktarash,

Population and Area

As of 1992, the total population of the island was 38,055; it has

4,440 houses. The area of the island is 70 square kilometers. It is in a
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geologically stable location. History has not recorded any serious
earthquakes on the island. The area has groundwater at a depth of 1 to 2
meters under the surface of the Earth.


The Island's climate is like other Saudi Arabian cities. Tarut retains
its warm temperature throughout winter, during which it gets around
+15C (59F) at midnight to +25C (77F) in the afternoon. Summer
temperatures are considerably hotter, breaking the +40C (104F) mark in
the afternoon and +30C (86F) in the evening. Since the island is near the
Arabic coast, the humidity is very high, sometimes reaching 96%
humidity. Rainfall on the island is rare, but when it does rain, it is usually
in December.

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Chapter 2  History

If you look into the rich history of Eastern Saudi Arabia, you will
discover a small island in the Persian Gulf. The present time has
forgotten it and its treasures need to be dusted off. When you are walking
in its old villages, you will see adjoining houses that are built from mud
and stone with narrow alleyways too. Their present is in the distant past.
When looking at the houses you can still see the remnants of many
generations. This island is Tarut.

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Understanding the Name

By: Ibrahim Hapop

Tarut or Tarout means goodness and beauty in the Semitic

languages. Historians differ on the correct name for it. The name
variations include "TARO", "THARRO" or "TWARO" in Greek literature,
including the famous "Ptolemy’s Geography". Additionally, the town’s
name is recorded as "TARU" in historical Chinese texts and "Ishtarut" in
Arabic history. Today, however, most of the new researchers argue that
the correct name is "Ishtarut". The Canaanites and Phoenicians, who
originally lived there, idolized the beauty of the town and called it
Ishtarut. The term, Ishtarut, is also very similar to the new name Tarut
without the first syllable.

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Civilizations and Countries

Scene from 300

We cannot separate the history of Tarut Island from the Eastern

Arabian Peninsula's history. Tarut Island has survived for thousands of
years and its antiquities prove that it was inhabited since the Stone Age,
approximately 5000 B.C. Many civilizations on the island of Tarut have
come and gone. Sometimes, even as parts of larger empires and nations.
Some of them were before Christ, such as the Dilmun people, the
Akkadian civilization, the Assyrian civilization, and the Persian Empire.
Others were after Christ such as the Persian Empire, the Islamic
civilization, the Portuguese colony, and the Ottoman Empire. Now, Tarut
Island belongs to Qatif city in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia. It has
been a place of economic migration because of its important strategic
location and a trade center between countries such as India, Pakistan, and
Bangladesh, the Arabian Peninsula, and Iraq. In addition, it has many
natural resources, including pearl fisheries and date farms.

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The Ethnicity of its People

"Neopolitan Arms" by cushdy

Tarut island was strategically estabilshed as a connector between

the East and the West. It was a place for merchants from all nations and
races to meet throughout history. The major questions about Tarut
Island's history include: Who were the original natives? Who immigrated
to the island? Did they leave valuable artifacts? The answers to these
questions are an enigma for archaeologists and historians. They have not
discovered any satisfactory answers but hope that they are revealed to
them in the future. Archaeologists have discovered old artifacts dating
back to the Stone Age and Bronze Age. But they have not been able to
determine which people left them and where they came from. They can
only designate artifacts by their age. The genetic origins of Tarut's people
contain a mix of different races: Mongol, Caucasian, and Negro who
intermarried throughout history. Some of them have white skin, some

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have dark skin, some have curly hair, some have straight, some even have
different hair colors, different eye colors, different beard thicknesses, etc.
These Semitic peoples, who are a mix of three races, migrated to the
Eastern Arabian Peninsula from the North.

The first Semites to settle on Tarut Island were the Phoenicians,

who descended from the Canaanites. They later migrated to the
Mediterranean coast. Historical records show that the Persians forced
groups of Roman prisoners to live on the Gulf Coast and in southern Iraq.
The main Arabic tribes who survived on the Eastern Arabian Peninsula
before Christ are the Abdel Al-Qays, the Kebe, the Iyad, the Abu Kion.

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By: Mohammed Al‐Mosally 


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Chapter 3  Artifacts

Artifacts unlock civilizations and the development of humanity

throughout history. Antiquities preserve characteristics of a nation and
distinguish it from others. This science examines the material remnants
of ancient civilizations, objects large and small, engraved and written.

Antiquities of Island

Tarout Island is like any old place of civilization. It has many

antiquities. Some of its artifacts have been discovered, while others
remain hidden. Once discovered, the antiquities are taken to large
museums in many regions. We can see the island's antiquities in the
Riyadh National Museum, and the Regional Museum of Dammam. If
someone discovers antiquities hidden on their land, they tell no one for
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fear their land may possibly be confiscated. However, some people will
steal antiquities to keep for themselves. In rare cases, people may destroy
artifacts not realizing their importance.

All of the island's antiquities were thought not to have been made
on the island. Some of them came from other places. The antiquities came
to the island because of Tarut Island's strategic location as a trade route.

Discovery of Antiquities

Discoveries of Antiquities on Tarut Island are rare today. The

famous discovery on Tarut Island was in 1968 by the Danish Mission
which found broken pottery dating to 4500 B.C and others to 3000 B.C.
The last discovery was in 1993 on the Hill of Rafeeah. From time to time,
Tarut's people have accidentally discovered deposits of antiquities. For
example, some automobile repair shop owners were renovating their
workshop and they found tombs dating back to 2000 BC. Another

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example is of a farmer who discovered precious stones and jars when he
was working on his farm. A third example was in 1959. when a janitor
was cleaning in a street, he discovered rocks engraved with the Sheba
language. In 1962, a municipality of Qatif discovered pottery metal
utensils and a stone statue dating back to the Stone Age. When the
government needed sand to build a bridge connecting Qatif and Tarut
Island, they took the sand from the Hill of Rafeeah. In 1980, a company
wanted to extend water pipes and found an old jar that had silver coins.
There are many stories like these of how antiquities were discovered on
Tarut Island.

The Famous Discovered Statue

Photograph of Khadem Abid, p.323, Art of the first cities

This famous discovered statue is Statue Tarut or “Khadem Abid.” It

is in the Riyadh National Museum. It is sculpted from limestone harsh
stony of color. Its height is 94 cm. It looks like a 40 year old man, with a
naked body, showing his genital, in statues of prayer and reverence. It is
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like Sumer statues which are found in Mesopotamia and they have the
same age. It is thought to be from there or its sculptor originally was from
there. This is not the only statue discovered but there are others.

Unknown Fate Statue

The unknown Fate Statue is a statue of a girl that dates to Ancient

Greek civilization. Its height is approximately a meter without its head. It
is a female, chubby body wearing shoes, and made from limestone. The
sculpting is beautifully well done. Moreover, it is affixed on a base.
Archeologists deduce from its size and appearance that the statue was
exhibited in a public place such as main entrance gate or field. The story
of its discovery is interesting: after it was discovered on Tarut Island, the
municipal administration of Qatif city buried it with other antiquities in
Alaiyashi farm. Peter B. Cornwall, who specializes in Dilmun civilization,
extracted the girl statue in 1940. Today, the statue's fate is unknown.

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By: Abdeladhim Al‐Dhamen 


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Section 1  Archaeological Features

When the sun rises every day Tarut island becomes a day older.
Surrounding countries look at Tarut Island as a monument and the
people of Tarut Island take pride in this. It has survived since 5000 BC,
and is recorded deep in history as an important land. It has connections
with the world though political and business relationships. Control
passed from civilization to civilization and was part of many empires and
countries. It has many archaeological features. Almost all of them have
been destroyed and are gone because of neglect and urbanization. Others
wasted away and became rubbish areas. A few of them were lucky and
were preserved. That is Tarut Island's current problem. Through this
section, I will talk about the famous archaeological features on the island.
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First:  Archaeological Features in  Deerah Town

Deerah Town

Deerah town or Dayra is the oldest town on Tarut Island and the
highest town because of the buildings that have been built on top of each
other since 5000 B.C. Its houses are considered to be heritage buildings of
the Arabic Gulf. Unfortunately almost all of the houses are destroyed and
are gone because of neglect and urbanization. Many of the homes house
poor people still today. Anyone can reach it them easily from inside the
city. Neighboring cities are connected by new roads. Those who visit this
ancient town should not forget to carry their camera to take photos and
shouldn’t hesitate to talk to the kind inhabitants who hurry in offering
help and tourism guidance to those who visit their island.
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Tarut Castle

Tarut Castle is the most famous castle in the Eastern Province of

Saudi Arabia and the oldest castle in the Persian Gulf. Tarut castle was
built on the ruins of an event 5 thousand years before. It was built in the
center of Tarut Island in Ishtarut near a waterhole known as Al-Awda
from the sixteenth century. Later, a fence was built around both. It is
located on the beautiful main streets of the island, near shops and main
services. Even now it is fighting nature’s effects, age, and negligence in
order to remain an important emblem of antiquities and heritage not only
in our valuable country but worldwide. On the towers of the castle, the
viewer can see most of the island -- its shores and gardens from every
direction. You can see where the blue of the sky meets the blueness of
the sea and the greenness of the land.

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Ein Al-Awda

Ein Al-Awda or Al-Aoudeh waterhole is considered to be one of

the oldest springheads in the Qatif oasis. It is located east of Tarut Castle.
It has been extinct for 4000 years according to what T. Geoffrey Bibby
said in his book "Looking For Dilmun" T. Geoffrey Bibby, who is a British
archaeologist, was in charge of the Danish mission which searched for
antiquities in the region. It was full of little fish and some tortoises and
frogs. Tarut's women washed their family's clothes and pots in it and
swam in it. Years later, boys would swim in it. Now, it has dried up and is

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Pasha Bath

This bath was constructed between Ein Al-aoudeh and Donkeys'

Bath. Its history dates back to the Portuguese colony that built it in 1544.
During World War II the Ottoman Empire used the bath; later Tourists
would use it. Pasha Bath was destroyed in 1996 and there are no remains.

Donkeys Bath

Donkeys Bath was located at the beginning of Deerah Town. It was

at the end of the for Ein Al-Awda channel. Tourists would wash their
donkeys since donkeys were the main transportation on Tarut Island
before cars. It was destroyed in 1996 and there are no remains.
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Second:  Archaeological Features in  other parts of Deerah Town

Al-Khoder Mosque is in Robaieyah Town

Al-Khoder Mosque is between a triangle of main towns (Tarut,

Sanabes, and Darren) in the south for Robaieyah town. it is over hill
rubble near the sea. Al-Khoder was a pious person, his name is
mentioned in the Quran. Historians and researchers differ on the reason
why this mosque is called Al-Khoder. The mosque was built far away
from towns. It was the pilgrimage place for Nestorius Christens and was
prevalent in the regain. Religious celebrations were held here.

Mohammed Abdelwahab Castle

Sheikh Mohammed Abdelwahab, who is one of the famous pearl

traders in the Persian Gulf, built a castle in 1885. The castle was a place
for meeting, hospitality, and foreign traders. Also it is in ruins now.

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Section 2  Dareen Port and Beach

Dareen town is located in the southwestern coast of Tarut Island.

Its ports are famous and date back to the Greek age. It was a trade center
between Arabian Peninsula, India, China, and Africa's eastern coast.
Indian ships carried goods such as musk, perfumes, textiles, spices,
precious stones, ivory and wood. Silk textiles came from China. Ivory
came from Africa's eastern coasts. In the 1880s, Dareen Port became the
most famous port in the Persian Gulf. The extraction of pearls made this
port famous in the 1880s. Some traders settled in the Persian Gulf because
of the pearl market. Now, Dareen Port is mostly used by fishermen who
export fish to neighboring cities.

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Section 3  Fish Market in Tarut town

If you would like to buy fresh seafood such as fish, shrimp, lobster,
scallops, crabs, etc. you had better visit the fish market in Tarut town.
There is a variety of fresh fish in Tarut's fish markets.

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Section 4  Farms

By: Mohammed Al‐Mosally 

Almost all of Tarut Island's area is filled with palm trees and date
trees, because Tarut has fertile ground. In the 1990s, a lot of palm trees
were cut and removed from many farms because of urbanization.
Centuries ago, farms were the second most popular occupation after
fishing. Due to urbanization, trees on the Island were cut down and only
farms have trees today. Now, farms can be rented as a place to vacation
and relax on the weekend and on holidays. The farm includes a large
house to stay in, a swimming pool, and farm animals that stay in barns
and pastures.

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Section 5  The Traveling Markets 

Travelling Market on Thursday in Qatif city

On most weekdays on Tarout Island there are traveling markets

that move from town to town. You can buy a variety of new products
that you would want (groceries, utensils, clothes, books, etc.). You
negotiate a price that you are willing to pay.

The Traveling Markets and their locations: 

- Sunday market is in the neighborhood of Alhawwami and Alvesel in

Tarut town.

- Monday market is in Sanabis.

- Tuesday market is in the neighborhood of Alenjimh in Tarut town.

- Wednesday market is in Alrobaieyah.

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By: Ali Al‐Mohsin, Festival Aldokhalah 2007 

Social Life 

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Section 1  Social Behavior 

Social life is considered to be the community's identity or the way

it is organized on the basis of history, culture, religion, and economics. In
addition, social life is affected by geographical regions and intermixing
with foreigners. Therefore, one region will have a different social life
than another. The Tarut people's social life is similar to other peoples in
the Persian Gulf . Furthermore, the social life has Shiite (religious), Gulf
culture (culture) and Saudi (customs) influence. This section will talk
about important aspects of Tarut's social life.

Social Behavior

There are many kinds of social behavior on Tarut Island. One

important behavior is obedience to one's parents and to comply with
authority, whether the authority is right or wrong. Another example is
respect for the elderly, such as taking their advice and not interrupting
them but instead listening to them and never eating before them. The
most prominent manifestations of social life appear in the exchange of
greetings with acquaintances or strangers when walking down the road,
visiting relatives, helping a person in need whether material help, moral
advice, and providing advice when one sees something wrong in the
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The Treatment of Women

The treatment of women is a mix between the teachings of Islam

and the old customs of the Arabian Peninsula. For example, men cannot
say their mother's or sister's names in public although Islam does not
forbid it. Another example is that women cover their faces in public
although Islam does not forbid showing the women faces.

Woman usually stayed at home as a housewife and did not leave

the house. She raised her children and did tasks at home. She had to ask
permission from her husband if she wanted to go out. A man worked to
provide for his family and bought all that his house needed. Now, women
can work as men do and are not restricted to the home. Women are now
working outside their homes, shopping in public, and can go out in public
easier. Children are raised by a nanny or a grandmother.

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Section 2  Religious and Traditional Celebrations 

First:  Religious Holy Days 

Tarut Island has many holy days that are rooted in happy and sad
history because its people are from Shi‘ite Islam.

Eid ul-Fitr

Eid ul-Fitr is an Islamic holiday that marks the end of the fasting
month of Ramadan. It is the first day after the fasting month of Ramadan.
In the morning of Eid, people go to a mosque to pray the Eid prayer.
Before one prays, he will give Zakat al Fitr, which is an alms for the
month of Ramadan. This gift equates to about 2 kg of a basic foodstuff
(such as wheat, barley, dates, raisins, etc.), or its cash equivalent. "Blessed
Eid" or "Happy Eid" is a common greeting during this holiday. Moreover,
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children wear new clothing to celebrate. Also, parents give gifts or
money to their children.

Eid ul-Adha

This day is a commemoration of Ibrahim's (Abraham's) willingness

to sacrifice his son Ismael for Allah. In addition, it is three days long and
starts on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijja. This is the day after the
pilgrims (during Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia by
Muslims worldwide) descend from Mount Arafat.

Mawlid Days

Shi'a has many Mawlid days, the birth of Islamic leaders, for
example, the birth of the Prophet Muhammad is on the 17th of Rabi'-ul-
Awwal, coinciding with the birthdate of the sixth Imam, Ja'far al-Sadiq.
Also, the birth of the Imam Ali is on thirteenth of Rajab month.

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Second:  Happiness of  Traditional Festivals 

Festival Alkerkiaan

By: Yousef Masoud, 2006 
Festival Alkerkiaan is the most famous traditional Festival in the
Eastern Arabian Peninsula. It is occurs twice a year. The first time is on
night of the 14th of Shaaban on the lunar Islamic calendar. The second
time is on the night of the 14th of Ramadan. Streets and alleys of the
Island are decorated during the Festival Alkerkiaan. Children carry bags
and enter houses in order to fill the bag with peanuts, nuts, and candy.
Youths drive their vehicles about towns to get peanuts, a meal, or gifts.

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Festival Aldokhalah

It is a cultural tradition and heritage festival occurring only for the
people of Tarut Island. It is three days long and starts during Eid ul-Adha.
The Festival comes from the tradition long ago, that when a family
member would go to Mecca (Hajj), the mother would plant barley in an
aldokhalah or bamboo basket and give to their children in order to
remember the absent pilgrim. About six days later, on Eid ul-Adha, the
children would throw the aldokhalah in the sea and sing "Habibie Gaeb
Mecca" which means "My dear one is in Mecca."

Some of the Festival events include visiting heritage exhibitions,

cultural competitions, playing games, drawing pictures, comedic drama,
throwing Aldokhalah in the sea, meeting with comical artists, and prize
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Section 3  Mourning Holy Days 

Death of Islamic Leaders

The mourning days commemorate the deaths of Islamic leaders.
Every shop is closed and people wear black clothes. Women remove any
kind of decoration from their wardrobe such as jewelry and clothes with
color. Moreover, weddings and engagement parties do not occur during
these days. The Day of Ashura is the most famous mourning holy day for
Shia. It celebrates the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the
Islamic prophet Muhammad at the Massacre of Karbala in the year
680AD when Imam Husayn was martyred with his household and fellow
prophets of Islam.
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Grieving for the Dead

When a relative dies, his family meets; the men meet for three days
and the women for five days. The deceased's family does not celebrate
any happiness holy days for one year from the date of the relative's death.

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Section 4  Wedding 

If you ask any girl, "What is your dream?" she will say, "My dream
is to have a beautiful wedding!" If you ask any boy, "What do you think
of marriage?" he will say, "It is my life goal!" Some people consider
marriage to be a heavy responsibility although marriage is a system of
honor. A system of honor means that marriage keeps people from
behaving promiscuously. Also, marriage provides mental and emotional
stability and it produces children who will later work in the economy
and help the country grow. Wedding ceremonies differ from place to
place because of different religions and cultures. In this essay, I will talk
about how dating works such as how to choose a girl, what the
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engagement is like, what are the factors that define the wedding's timing,
and the wedding itself.

The first step for planning a marriage is choosing a wife. Maybe

foreigners think that it is complicated in the Saudi community because
Saudi boys cannot see the face of other girls; however, sometimes a girl
may remove her head covering without realizing that a boy is present.
Foreigners think that it must be difficult to choose a wife since he cannot
see her face, but to a Saudi man, this is simply a part of the culture. If a
Saudi boy would like to get married, he tells his parents. His mother then
asks him, "Do you have a girl or a family in mind?" If he has no girl in
mind, then she will ask, "Describe to me the type of girl you are looking
for." However, some young men know who they will marry due to their
parents telling them as children that they will marry a certain girl. This is
called an arranged marriage. Most sons usually agree because he has lived
with this girl since they were both children. If, however, the son does not
accept his parents' choice, then his mother and sisters will search for
another girl. The most important thing for the parents to do is to research
a girl's family reputation. Does the family have a good reputation and
good behavior? The mother and sisters then ask the community about the
reputation of the family. While this is happening, the mother of the girl
being sought after is taught by her mother how she should behave in
order to receive a good report. For example, if she is a bad wife, she may
try to convince her husband that his mother is bad and cause the husband
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to hate his mother. If this happens the community will shun the
newlyweds because hating ones mother is against Islam and custom.
Some families who are wealthy may only consider the wealth of the
other family. If his family is rich, then they will only choose a woman
whose family is also rich. After looking at the girl's family, the mother
and sisters will observe the girl's behavior. If his mother likes the girl,
then she discusses her choice with her husband. Usually, the father
knows the family because the community is small. Later, the parents
describe the girl's family and her beauty to their son. If the son does not
like what he hears, then his mother searches again.

When the son finally agrees upon the girl that his mother has
chosen, his mother and sisters go to the girl and her mother. At this time,
they talk with them in order to obtain information about her to tell the
son. After the son decides that he definitely wants to marry this girl, then
the mother and sisters will go to the girl and tell her that her son wants
to marry her. After that, the girl's mother tells the boy's family that she
needs time (a week or more) to ask her daughter about whether she is
ready to marry and also to gather information about the boy and his
family. After the allotted time, the girl's family will give an answer on
whether they agree on the engagement or not. If they agree, the boy and
girl go to the hospital to take a premarital genetic screening. If the results
of the screening are good, meaning that they are not close relatives, then

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the engagement time begins. During this time, the engagement is a secret
between both of the families in order to protect the girl's reputation.

After the screening, both the boy and girl's families meet to know
what the girl's family requirements are. This is called mahr or dowry
which comes in the form of money. It is obligatory in Islam and is given
by the groom to the bride upon marriage in Islamic countries. The mahr
in Tarut Island is anywhere between 6,000 and 8,000 US dollars. In
addition, they decide how much money to give the girl for new clothes
and jewelry, usually around 1,500 US dollars. Some questions asked
during this time are: "When will the engagement begin?", "Where will
the wedding be?", "Where will the girl live?", etc. During the
engagement, the groom, his father, and the religious sheikh who will
marry them, come to the bride's house to listen to the agreement
between the bride and groom and to write a contract of agreement. Her
family will attend the meeting to show their approval and two male
witnesses will sign the contract. The groom's family will then give the
mahr in a beautiful box with a small Quran. After that, the sheikh takes
the letter to court to notarize the contract. Next, the groom's family
gives the bride's family approximately 16 kg of fish to distribute to their
relatives and neighbors and to make a declaration of the engagement
between the families. After that, the bride's family and the groom's
family prepare a large party in the bride's home and invite their relatives,
neighbors, and best friends. Most of the costs such as cake, drinks, and
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almonds are paid for by the groom's family. During the party, the groom
stays with his bride. He feeds her cake, gives her juice to drink, and
places a ring on her finger. He also puts other jewelry on her (such as a
necklace, bracelet, etc.).

"Lailat Ghasalh," or "Night Washer" is a custom that has almost

vanished from Tarut Island. During "Lailat Ghasalh," the bride and her
friends would go swimming in a springhead or pool before sunset. During
this time, her friends would sing to her, congratulate her, and wash her
so that she is completely clean. Then they would come to the bride's
house to sing to her. Long ago, in the groom's house, the groom sat on a
chair around his friends who would sing to him and the barber would cut
his hair and beard. Today, "Lailat Ghasalh" has changed dramatically. The
bride takes a shower in her house, then goes to the hairdresser. The
groom goes to the barber shop, and after that, he and his friends go to
swim in a springhead or pool and his friends sing to him while they wash

The night of Privet or henna, is usually two days before the

wedding. A woman who applies the privet (henna tattoo) comes to the
bride's house to embellish her hands and feet. During this time, her
friends and relatives sing to her.

In the past, invitations to the wedding were given by a relative or

family friend who would go throughout the neighborhoods. Also, the

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bride's family would send a relative or family friend throughout the
neighborhoods to invite the community to the wedding. Today, families
or the bride and groom use invitation cards. Only a few families make a
general invitation in which everyone is invited.

On the day of the wedding, during the afternoon, the groom's

family prepares a lunch for family and close friends. Wedding ceremonies
occur at night and usually on the weekend, which in Saudi Arabia is
Wednesday and Thursday night. The wedding is held in at least two
locations: one location is for the men from both families to celebrate; the
second is for the women from both families to celebrate, however, some
families will split the women from the bride's family from the women
from the groom's family and celebrate at different locations. The men
from both families celebrate the wedding in a husseinieh, which is a
building where Shiites go to hear about Shiite history and seek advice or
the families will rent a wedding hall. Finally at night, the bride wears a
white wedding dress and goes to a hairdresser, then goes to a
photography studio to take pictures. The professional photographer, who
is a woman, accompanies the bride throughout the night taking photos
and making a film of the ceremony. After going to the studio, the bride
then goes to the wedding hall where the women are waiting for her. The
women's celebration will rent singers and dancers to entertain the guests
and is much more exciting and livelier than the men's celebration. When
she enters, the emcee welcomes her and announces her to the female
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guests. The dinner is usually a buffet, but sometimes an Arabic meal is
given to the guests when they arrive. During the men's celebration,
guests eat a large dinner without the groom, usually a big dish of rice
with a piece of mutton or beef, called Eich Alamaaris. Also, soda and fruit
(such as bananas and oranges) is eaten by the guests. Some poorer families
will not have a meal but only give cake to the guests. After dinner,
someone will sing a religious song and read a story of the birth of an
Islamic leader. While the men are singing, the groom with his brother(s)
and best friend will arrive at the husseinieh by a grandiose car such as a
BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz. When he enters the door of the
husseinieh, everyone stands up and shouts "Allahoma Sali ali Mohammad
wa ala Muhammad" that means, "All praise be to Allah alone, and His
peace and blessings be upon His messenger and bondman our Prophet
Muhammad, his family. All the guests congratulate the groom, shake his
hand, and kiss both of his cheeks. They also shake his family's hands and
his best friend's hand. Later on, the groom's relatives and some of the
guests will accompany the groom on foot and sing religious songs on their
way to the mosque to pray. After praying, they will walk back to their
cars and drive around town and honk their horns. Then, they accompany
the groom to his apartment where his bride will be waiting for him. After
that, they will leave. His family has already brought a meal for him and
his wife to eat since they have not eaten because of their busy schedules
all day.
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The next night, many people will go to the groom's home to say
congratulations again to the groom and his family and to eat some cake.
The bride usually goes with her mother-in-law to meet her new family
and family friends (all females). Also, many people will go to the bride's
home to say congratulations again to the bride's family.

In conclusion, the wedding ceremonies differ from city to city

because of different religions and cultures. The wedding process on Tarut
Island is a mix between religion and culture that start with choosing an
honest wife, then engagement, and later the wedding ceremony.
Weddings on Tarut Island seem very expensive, but the people of Tarut
hope to reduce the costs in order for people to be able to get married
early. Also, I hope that the customs involved in weddings on Tarut Island
are not lost as many weddings today appear to be like those in Western

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The historic small island of Tarut, located in the Eastern Province of

Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf, has survived for thousands of years. It
has survived many larger empires and countries such as Dilmun, the
Persian Empire, the Islamic civilization, and the Portuguese colony. The
Island's location was strategically commercial as the connector between
India and the Arabian Peninsula. Though it is small in size, it is large in
its history and invaluable in the hearts of historians and its people. Tarut
Island has many treasures of human civilizations from antiquity. Some of
its artifacts have been discovered (like Khadem Abid), while others
remain hidden, and others have been destroyed. In addition, this island
has many archaeological features. Some of them still exist and others
were sadly removed because of urbanization. In addition, the island has
many landmarks such as Dareen Port, the fish market, and the traveling
markets. The Tarut people's social life has Shiite (religious), Gulf (culture)
and Saudi (customs) influence. It has religious and traditional
celebrations as well. On the other hand, it has mourning holy days. In
the end, Tarut Island is ingrained with past life and present life in the
landmarks and the customs of its people.

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Works cited

- Bibby, Geoffrey. Looking for

Dilmun. New York: Knopf, 1956.

- Aruz, Joan. Art of the First Cities:

The Third Millennium B.C. from the
Mediterranean to the Indus. New
York. 2003

- Abdulmohsen, Abdullah. Min

Torath Jazeera Tarut. 1986.

- Al-Darorah, Ali. Min Tarikh

Jazeera Tarut.

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