The definition of the word Sanabis is disputed, with the most popular view being that members of the Sunbus tribe which traces its origins to the Qahtanite Tayy tribe migrated from Khobar to Qatif and Bahrain and the areas that they settled in were named Sinbas after the tribe's name but which later became known as Sanabis.
In J. G. Lorimer's Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf (1908), Sanabis is said to be inhabited by 1500 Baharna who primarily engage in boat-building, pearling and fishing. According to his report, the village had a noticeable pretty mosque situated in the centre of the village. At the time, there were an estimated 900 date palm trees, 16 donkeys, 10 cattle, and 30 pearling boats belonging to Sanabis. 
Sanabis is traditionally seen as a commercial centre alongside Seef and the Central Business District, this is evident due to the presence of multiple skyscrapers and malls. Native villagers from Sanabis are noted to have had a distinct accent.
- Lorimer, John Gordon. "'Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf. Vol. II. Geographical and Statistical. J G Lorimer. 1908'  (251/2084)". Qatar Digital Library. British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- The Report: Bahrain 2009. Oxford Business Group. 2009. p. 144. ISBN 9781907065033.
- Language Variation and Change in a Modernising Arab State: The Case of Bahrain. Taylor & Francis. 1987. pp. 40, 41. ISBN 9780710302441.
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