Az Zubayr in September 2003
The name is also sometimes written Az Zubair, Zubair, Zoubair, El Zubair, or Zobier.
History of Zubair
During the Ottoman times, the city was a self-ruling emirate ruled by an Emir (or Sheikh) from Najdi families, such as Al Zuhair, Al Meshary, and Al Ibrahim families. Like other Emirates under the Ottoman Empire, the Emirate of Zubair used to pay dues and receive protection from the Ottomans. In the 19th century, the city of Zubair witnessed relatively large migrations from Najd. Up until the 1970s and 1980s, the town was predominantly populated by people of Najdi origin. Now only a few families remain of the old inhabitants. Most of the old inhabitants moved back to their homeland Najd and other parts in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Many also moved to Kuwait. In the period when Najdis inhabited the city it was dominated by the Sunni denomination of Islam, and in stark contrast to the Shia-dominated Basra nearby.
In 2008, the city of Zubair had a population of around 600,000 people and had grown to merge into Basra metropolitan area with nearly 3 million inhabitants in total. As in Basra, the municipality of Zubair currently has a Shia majority and is hardly distinguishable from Basra itself. (see the article on List of cities in Iraq. But, contrary to Basra, Zubair is still home to a large Sunni minority of all backgrounds. Presently (AD 2012), more than 90,000 people inhabit the bustling city of Zubair.