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Abu al-Lif Tower

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Abu al-Lif Tower
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General information
LocationSaudi Arabia
Addresslocated in Tarout Bay in the southern Persian Gulf

The Abu al-Laif Tower, Abu al-Lif Fortress, or Berri Abu al-Lif is a military naval tower, located in Tarout Bay in the southern part of the Persian Gulf. It was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century.

The label[edit]

"The Leif" plural "Lifah" which is the fabric surrounding the base of the palm fringes. The fibre was a material from which ropes were made, or for cleaning. Fuel may be used to light primitive stoves. There are several assumptions that link this name, but most of them are not confirmed.

Construction and design[edit]

The Abu al-Lif Tower is a conical military tower built of marine stones (Frouches) and clothed with a layer of plaster (gypsum) and the ballas. Architecturally classified as a landmark, due to its great historical fame among the people in its location in the Persian Gulf.[1]

The location[edit]

Abul Leif Tower is south of Khor Malak within the sea arch, which runs from Dammam to Ras Tanura and is also known as Tarout Bay. It converges with Khor Sihat to the south, and Khor Darin to the east. The waters of the creek where the tower is located shallow water. The tower is accessible on foot on the case of tides and it is difficult for boats to cross through some of its corridors. Darren is 3 km from the west. The water of the islands is called locally as "thabar" and its opposite is "saqi", meaning "tidal".


In the 16th century AD, the Portuguese built the Abu al-Lif Tower from four towers on solid sea rock bases. Since then, the tower has undergone several restorations at various times. The Abu al-Lif Tower was then used for surveillance and guarding, in addition to being a defensive base against invading warships of the area. It was also used to monitor and inspect ships.[1]

The end of the tower and its destruction[edit]

On 13 January 1866, he issued a 17-day ultimatum to the Emir in Riyadh from his representative in Qatif after the British ship High Flyer, led by Captain Basley, began working in Qatif and Dammam. On 30 January, after an interview in Winston Bay, with political resident Major Louis Bailey, Captain Basley, again with the High Flyer, returned to Qatif, where he confirmed that no response had been received to the warning. British ships led by Lieutenant Fellows, including the Highflyer, entered the port of Qatif on 2 February, It destroyed the small fort Burj Abu al-Lif, as well as a local ship, on the orders of Captain Bassey. The tower remained standing for a short time until it was completely destroyed and sank into the sea.

It was part of an occasional military skirmish between the second Saudi state and British forces in the Persian Gulf. The skirmish was not intentional, but an improvised security tower guards at sea began firing a shell against a British garrison, prompt response and destroying the tower. The document that chronicles this is preserved in the British archives, and edited on Rabi` al-Awwal  of 1271 AH, (November 1854). It is a letter sent by the Qatif prince to the commander of the English ship to solve an unintended skirmish problem that occurred between the guards of the Aba Al-Lif Tower and the ship. The prince of Qatif at the time was Muhammad bin Ali al-Ajaji, and he was a representative of the second Saudi state during the reign of Imam Faisal bin Turki, who ruled for two terms, the first between 1250 and 1254, and the second between 1259 and 1282 AH.

Qatif's prince rule, at the time, stretched along the coast. On the night of the skirmish – according to the document, Al-Ajaji was on a business mission in Dammam. By analogy with that time, the transition from Qatif to Dammam required almost a full day. Therefore, what happens in either of them may be delayed until the next day. When the guards of the "Aba al-Lif Tower" in the English ship suspected they fired an artillery shell at it, without referring to the prince.

Prince Al-Ajaji succeeded in containing what happened quickly, reducing losses, and sparing people an unequal military confrontation with the British forces, who were roaming the waters of the Persian Gulf remarkably, especially since their ambitions were focused on the cities of the entire Persian Gulf after removing the Portuguese and Dutch from them, and imposing their hegemony and protection on some cities.[2][3]

Local stories and legends[edit]

Locals of the coast were recounting many novels and legends around the Abu al-Lif Tower. According to them, it was part of the fabric of an ancient fortified city called "Rabat" that was destroyed after being trenched by Portuguese cannons, abandoned by its inhabitants and studied its features, and today only the foundations of the stone tower flooded by sea during the tide remain of that so-called city.

The tower was part of the security system, and part of the ground signs, by which sailors identified adjacent locations, the most important of which were Safwa Fort, Qatif Fort, Dareen Castle, Akhnakka, Saihat Fort and Dammam Castle.

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 ""أبا الليف".. آخر ما تبقّى من آثار منظومة الدفاع عن القوس البحري". 7 August 2017. Archived from the original on 7 August 2017. Retrieved 2022-12-24.
  2. ""Do you know the Abu Al-Leif Castle, which is located in the middle of the sea on Dareen Island?" Al-Rai electronic newspaper". 9 March 2020. Archived from the original on 9 March 2020.
  3. "معالم القطيف". Retrieved 2022-12-28.

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