Tarut Island

Tarut Island

Tarut Island is an island in the Persian Gulf.



It is the second longest island in the Persian 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 Persian 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.

The island includes many smaller towns and villages such as Tarut town, Sanabes, Darren, Robaieyah, Alzour, Turkeya, Almhaddoud, and Almzora. Tarut, the largest town, includes the districts of Deerah, Aldshah, Alouqaf, Aredh Aljabl, Alvseel, Alhuwami, Freqk Adhrash, etc.).

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 geologically stable location. History has not recorded any serious earthquake 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 unlike 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.


If you would like to look at the deep past of Eastern Saudi Arabia, your mind will go to a small island in the Persian Gulf. Present time has forgotten it and its treasures and it needs 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 presence is in the distant past. When looking at the houses, you draw memories from generation after generation that have long passed. This island is Tarut.

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 "Ashtarut " in Arabic history. Today, however, most of the new researchers argue that the correct name is "Ashtarut " because the Canaanites and Phoenicians, who originally lived there, idolized the beauty of the town and called it Ashtarut. The term Ashtarut is also very similar to the new name Tarut , if we delete the first syllable.

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. It passed away several civilizations ago and was part of many Empires and countries. Some of them were before Christ, such as Dilmun, the Akkadian country, the Assyrian country, and the Persian Empire. Others were after Christ such as the Persian Empire, the Islamic country, the Portuguese colony, and the Ottoman Empire. Now, Tarut Island belongs to Qatif city in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia. It was a place of economic migration because of its important strategic location and it was a trade center between Indian contraries, the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq. In addition, it has a lot of natural resources, including pearl fisheries and date farms.

The ethnicity of the people of Tarut Island

Tarut island was strategically located as a link between the East and the West. It was a place for merchants from all nations and races to meet throughout history. Major questions about Tarut Island are: Who were the first settlers? Who immigrated and settled on the island? Did they leave valuable artifacts? These questions are an enigma and are not fully clear to archaeologists and histories. They have not discovered satisfactory answers to these questions and hope to reveal more answers in the future. Archaeologists have discovered old artifacts dating back to the Stone Age and Bronze Age, but they have not been able to identify which people left them and where they came from. They can only designate artifacts by the archeological age from which they came. The genetic origins of Tarut's people contain a mix of different races: Mongolian, Caucasian and Negro who intermarried throughout history. Some of them have white skin and some have dark, some have curly hair and some have straight, they 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 Arabia Peninsula from the North. The first Semitics to settle on Tarut Island were the Phoenicians, who descended from the Canaanites. They later immigrated to the Mediterranean coast. History records 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 Abdel Al-Qays, Kebe, Iyad, and Abu Kion.


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.

Tarut Island is like any ancient site. 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 countries. We can see the island's antiquities in the Riyadh National Museum, and the Regional Museum of Dammam. If someone discovers some antiquities hidden on their land, he tells no one for fear of the government seizing his land. However, some people will steal antiquities to keep for themselves. In rare cases, people may destroy artifacts not realizing their importance. Many of the island's antiquities are thought to have been brought from other places based on its strategic location as a trade route.

Discoveries of antiquities on Tarut Island

Discovery of antiquities on Tarut Island are rare today. The most famous discovery on Tarut island was in 1968 by the Danish Mission, which found broken pottery dating to 4500 B.C and others 3000 B.C. The last discovery was in 1993 on Hill of Alerbeieh. 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 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 discovered rocks engraved with the Sheba language while cleaning a street. 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 Alerafeeuh hill. 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 artifacts were discovered on Tarut Island.In the 1970s in a palm tree grove burials were discovered that dated to the middle of the third millennium B.C. These burials contained a considerable number of ceramic vessels and metal objects. Of special significance was the discovery of carved cholrite vessels with elaborate carved decorations. This type of vessels is referred to as the 'Intercultural Style' for vessels of this type have been found in Mesopotamia, the Iranian Plateau, the Indus Valley and Central Asia.

The famous Tarut Statue

This famous discovered statue is Statue Tarut or Khadem Abid, and is displayed in the Riyadh National Museum. It was carved from limestone and its height is 94 cm. The subject is a man standing in a pose of prayer and reverence. It is similar to Sumer statues of the same age from Mesopotamia. This statue is thought to be either from Mesopotamia or created by a sculptor originally from there. There have been other statues discovered as well.

The Unknown Fate Statue

The Unknown Fate Statue is a limestone statue that dates back to ancient Greek civilization. Its height is approximately a meter without its head. The statue is a girl with a chubby body wearing shoes, and is affixed on a base. The sculpting is beautifully done. 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.


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 Persian 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. Any one 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.

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 by the Portuguese in the 16th century, on the rubbles from an event 5 thousand years before. It is located in the center of Tarut Island in Ishtarut near a waterhole known as Al-Awda in the sixteenth century. Later, it was fenced in. moreover; it is located on main beautiful streets near shops and main services. It is even now fighting nature’s force, age, and negligence 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, and can see where the blue of the sky meets the blueness of the sea and the greenness of the land.

Donkeys Bath

Donkeys Bath was located in Aldeerah Town at the end of the Ein Al-aoudeh 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.

Mohammed Abdelwahab Castle in Dareen

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 trading. Today, ruins are the only evidence of the castle’s former existence.

Dareen Port and Beach

The town of Dareen 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.

The Traveling Markets

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.

*Friday Market is in Dakhl Al-Mahdod

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