Dhahran

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This article is about Dhahran, the city. For the Saudi Aramco residential compound, see Dhahran Aramco Camp.
Dhahran
الظهران
Skyline of Dhahranالظهران
Dhahranالظهران is located in Saudi Arabia
Dhahranالظهران
Dhahran
الظهران
Location in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Coordinates: 26°16′N 50°09′E / 26.267°N 50.150°E / 26.267; 50.150Coordinates: 26°16′N 50°09′E / 26.267°N 50.150°E / 26.267; 50.150
Country  Saudi Arabia
Province Eastern Province
Government
 • Mayor Bandar Al-Subayi
Area
 • City 100 km2 (40 sq mi)
 • Land 100 km2 (40 sq mi)
 • Water 0 km2 (0 sq mi)
Elevation 17 m (56 ft)
Population (2012)
 • City 138,135
 • Metro 5,100,000[dubious ]
Time zone EAT (UTC+3)
Postal Code 31261
Area code(s) +966-13

Dhahran (Arabic الظهران aẓ-Ẓahrān) is a city located in Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, and is a major administrative center for the Saudi oil industry. It forms part of the Dammam Metropolitan; the Dammam metropolitan area, or greater Dammam, is the metropolitan area associated with the city of Ad Dammam, Eastern Province, and its suburbs. It is the area that is closely linked to the city through social, economic, and cultural ties. The Dammam metropolitan area—mainly known as greater Dammam—is the largest metropolitan area in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia formed by three main neighboring cities: Dammam, Dhahran, and Khobar. These three respectable cities are sometimes referred to as the triplet cities. The metropolitan area of the triplet cities has an estimated population of 4,140,000 as of 2012. Greater Dammam also includes many other smaller cities such as Al Qatif, Safwa, and Ras Tanura. The complete metropolitan area has an estimated population of 5,100,000, making it the fifth largest populated area in the Kingdom.

Large oil reserves were first identified in the Dhahran area in 1931, and in 1935, Standard Oil drilled the first commercially viable oil well. Standard Oil later established a subsidiary in Saudi Arabia called the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO), now fully owned by the Saudi government and known as Saudi Aramco. Dhahran has been the home of Saudi Aramco's headquarters for 80 years and is its first and largest gated compound with more than 9,700 residents. Employees and dependents of Aramco, known as Aramcons, have a tendency to use Dhahran to solely refer to the Aramco camp while using Khobar and/or Dammam to refer to the area outside the camp. The Saudi Aramco Residential Camp makes up much of the city of Dhahran today.

Geography[edit]

Dhahran is a short distance west of downtown Khobar. It is about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) south of Dammam. Both are older Saudi port cities on the coast of the Persian Gulf. Looking farther afield, Dhahran is northeast of Abqaiq, and southeast of Qatif and, further north, Ras Tanura, a major oil port. The island of Bahrain is also within easy driving distance to the east (about 20 miles (32 km)), across the King Fahd Causeway, from Khobar.

Geology[edit]

The patch of desert on which the city is built is hilly and rocky, and most of the earliest productive oil wells in Saudi Arabia were drilled in the area, such as Dammam Well #7: "Prosperity Well," the first commercially viable oil well in Saudi Arabia in the 1930s. This well is still in production 70 years later. This later led to the selection of two barren nearby hills as the place for Aramco to construct its headquarters.[1]

The Dhahran-Dammam area is one of two regions, the other being Jeddah, that were selected as potential sites to build the first Saudi nuclear reactor.

Climate[edit]

Dhahran’s climate is characterized by long hot humid summers, and mild winters. Temperatures can rise to more than 40 °C (100 °F) in the summer, coupled with extreme humidity (85—100%)[citation needed], given the city’s proximity to the Persian Gulf. The highest recorded temperature in Dhahran is 51.1 °C (124.0 °F).[1] In winter, the temperature rarely falls below −2 °C (28 °F), with the lowest ever recorded being −5 °C (23 °F) in January 1964.[2] Rain falls almost exclusively between the months of November and May. The Shamal winds usually blow across the city in the early months of the summer, bringing dust storms that can reduce visibility to a few metres. These winds can last for up to six months.

On July 8, 2003, the dew point was 35 °C (95 °F) while the temperature was 42 °C (108 °F), resulting in a heat index of 68 to 71 °C (154 to 160 °F), one of the highest heat indexes in the world.[3]

Climate data for Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 30
(86)
36.2
(97.2)
38.8
(101.8)
45
(113)
49.5
(121.1)
49
(120)
49
(120)
48.5
(119.3)
46.6
(115.9)
44.5
(112.1)
37.5
(99.5)
31
(88)
49.5
(121.1)
Average high °C (°F) 20.8
(69.4)
22.3
(72.1)
25.6
(78.1)
32.4
(90.3)
38.7
(101.7)
41.7
(107.1)
43.3
(109.9)
42.4
(108.3)
40.3
(104.5)
35.6
(96.1)
28.9
(84)
23.2
(73.8)
32.93
(91.28)
Daily mean °C (°F) 15.5
(59.9)
16.7
(62.1)
20.6
(69.1)
25
(77)
30.6
(87.1)
33.4
(92.1)
35.2
(95.4)
34.4
(93.9)
31.9
(89.4)
27.9
(82.2)
22.3
(72.1)
17
(63)
25.88
(78.61)
Average low °C (°F) 10.2
(50.4)
11.5
(52.7)
14.7
(58.5)
19.7
(67.5)
24.6
(76.3)
27.5
(81.5)
28.9
(84)
28.7
(83.7)
25.6
(78.1)
22
(72)
17.1
(62.8)
12.4
(54.3)
20.24
(68.48)
Record low °C (°F) −1
(30)
3
(37)
6
(43)
10
(50)
14
(57)
19.4
(66.9)
21
(70)
19.5
(67.1)
18.5
(65.3)
13.4
(56.1)
8
(46)
3.4
(38.1)
−1
(30)
Precipitation mm (inches) 17.7
(0.697)
15.2
(0.598)
35.3
(1.39)
3.5
(0.138)
1.2
(0.047)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.3
(0.012)
18.6
(0.732)
15.7
(0.618)
107.5
(4.232)
Avg. precipitation days 11 9.7 16.2 7.6 2.2 0.1 0.1 0 0.1 0.6 4.9 10.2 62.7
 % humidity 73 68 60 55 43 34 36 44 53 60 64 66 54.7
Source #1: Hong Kong Observatory (1981–2000)[4]
Source #2: NOAA (extremes and humidity, 1961-1990)[2]

History[edit]

Dhahran was settled after 1938, the year oil was discovered in the vicinity.[5]

During WW II on 19 October 1940 Dhahran was struck by Italian Royal Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) as a part of Bombing of Bahrain, causing little damage. In 1950 Dhahran had a population of about 7,000 people.[6] During the Gulf War, the city was the scene of the largest loss of life among coalition forces. On February 25, 1991, an Iraqi missile hit a U.S. Army barracks in the city, killing 28 American reservists from Pennsylvania.

Economy[edit]

IKEA store in Dhahran

Dhahran has the headquarters of Saudi Aramco.[7] The company is the largest oil company in the world with the largest oil reserves in the world,[8] and it produces about 10 million barrels of oil per day. Most of the oil is exported, since local Saudi needs require about 12% of the total production. (See: Saudi Aramco)[citation needed]

Seventy-seven years on, Dhahran is still Saudi Aramco's worldwide headquarters and the center of the company's finance, exploration, engineering, drilling services, medical services, materials supply and other company organisations.[9]

Demographics[edit]

The population of Dhahran is mainly Saudi, but also includes many expatriates from Asian countries, such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and the Philippines, as well as countries such as the United States, Canada, European countries, Turkey, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. There are also many non-Saudi Arab nationals living in Dhahran, such as Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Palestinians, Sudanese, and Syrians. The 1993 population of the city was 73,691.[9] According to a 2004 census the total population of the Dhahran municipality is 97,446.

Many companies that employ relatively large numbers of expatriates have built fenced-in compounds where only expatriates live, however the largest compound, the Saudi Aramco Residential Camp in Dhahran provides accommodation to many different nationalities. Although built originally to house only expatriate oil company employees (mainly Americans) and once thought to provide a degree of Western comfort and separation from the restrictions of Saudi and Islamic laws, the community today has shifted somewhat in line with the reduction of western residents into a multi-ethnic mosaic of Saudis, other Arab nationalities (e.g. Egyptian and Jordanian), Asians, Europeans, South Americans, Africans and Australasians. While only employees of Saudi Aramco live on the camp, their nationalities reflect those of the company as a whole. As of 2011, the Saudi Aramco workforce was 87% Saudi, with only 13% expatriates. There are also several neighborhoods, or suburbs just outside the main Saudi Aramco Camp, such as Doha Camp (حي الدوحه) and Dana Camp (حي الدانة), where Saudi Aramco gives home loans to Saudi employees to build their own homes.

Government, law, and security[edit]

Dhahran is part of the Eastern Province, the largest province in Saudi Arabia. The province is governed by Prince Saud bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Just like the rest of the country, the law of Shari’a, or Islamic law is adhered to. Following the Saudi Arabian municipal elections in 2005, members of the municipal councils were elected.

Dhahran is guarded as it is a high visibility city. The Saudi Special Emergency Forces' Eastern Province headquarters are located in Dhahran near the Saudi Aramco residential camp. There are many security checkpoints throughout the city that have been almost permanently in place since the Riyadh Compound Bombings.

The first American consulate was opened in Dhahran in 1944.[10]

Transport[edit]

Road to the Saudi Aramco Dhahran main gate

As the centre of the nation's oil industry, Dhahran enjoys good transport resources both nationally and internationally, especially after the extensive modernisation of the nations highway infrastructure in the 70's and 80's.

Road[edit]

The extensive highway network in the Dhahran, Khobar, Dammam area serves the strategically important national oil industry, led by Saudi Aramco, as well as the local population. However, car ownership in the Kingdom has soared which often leaves non-highway roads congested at peak times.

Airport[edit]

Formerly one of Saudi Arabia's three major international airports, Dhahran Airport (DHA), which opened in 1946 as Dhahran Airfield, is now a Royal Saudi Air Force air-base. Today, King Fahad International Airport (DMM), which replaced Dhahran International for commercial and cargo, serves the entire Metropolitan Area of Dhahran, Dammam, and Khobar, the distance to the airport terminal is about 40 km (25 Miles) from Dhahran. Saudi Aramco Aviation operates its own terminal near King Fahd International Airport, where all Saudi Aramco flights originate.

Railway[edit]

Although rail service in Saudi Arabia plays a much more minor role today than 50 years ago, an industrial railroad with a station adjacent to Dhahran still exists, linking it to the capital Riyadh.

Public transport[edit]

Public transport buses are only available in a very limited manner, with Taxi services, at reasonable prices and widely available, proving more popular. Large companies such as Saudi Aramco run their own bus transport operations, connecting residential and industrial camps of the company with Dhahran, Dammam and Khobar. Many smaller residential compounds also operate their own bus services which are typically used for transport to places of work or shopping trips by residents.

Communications and media[edit]

Mobile telephone communications are provided mainly by STC, Mobily and Zain, which have launched 3G and 4G services to their customers.

STC also provides landlines through its Al-Hatif services, as well as providing internet services through Saudi Data.

There are several Internet Service Providers such as Al-Alamiah, ArabNet, Nesma and others. Both DSL and FTTH services are available.

There are several popular radio stations, such as Radio Sawa, Studio One 91.4 FM, broadcast from Aramco, Bahrain Radio 96.5 FM, and AFRTS.

Satellite television is predominant in the market, with Orbit Showtime being the most popular, as well as the widespread Arabsat and Nilesat satellite channel operators.

Education[edit]

Schools in Dhahran come under two sections: public (government-run) and private. Public schools (K-12), open to almost everyone, strictly adhere to teaching the curriculum exactly as provided by the Ministry of Education. Public schools also come under two sections: Saudi Aramco built and government built. The Saudi Aramco built schools are usually better in design and last longer due to them being built to higher standards, however they are not operated by the company. Private schools also teach the ministry’s curriculum, but they have more flexibility often enhancing certain aspects, such as exceeding the ministry’s curriculum when teaching the English language and computer applications. King Fahad University Schools, Dhahran Ahliyyah Schools and Saad National Schools are examples of top private schools in Dhahran.

There are several schools that teach the curriculum of their native countries, such as the Pakistan International School, International Indian School, Dhahran British Grammar School, Dhahran Elementary Middle School, Dhahran High School. The Dhahran School and the Dhahran Hills School are Saudi Aramco-run American curriculum schools within the Saudi Aramco Residential Camp. These schools are strictly only for the children of expatriate Saudi Aramco employees but are provided completely free of charge to them. They are fully accredited and are part of the larger Saudi Aramco Schools district, encompassing all Saudi Aramco-operated schools within Aramco residential compounds.

Dhahran is also home to the world renowned King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM),[9] and the Aramco Training Center (ATC), where many new employees of Saudi Aramco learn useful skills, such as English, business mathematics, physics, and computer skills. University of Dammam and Prince Mohammad bin Fahd University are also located near the city.

Little League World Series[edit]

Dhahran, specifically a team drawn from the Saudi Aramco Residential Camp, represented the Middle East-Africa, or "MEA" region (formerly the Trans-Atlantic region) from 2000–2011. The city also had 11 teams before that represented them from 1983 through 1998. Though Dhahran has produced many teams that have made it to the Little League World Series, no team has ever won the World Series championship game, nor the international championship game. The best finish by a team from Saudi Aramco Residential Camp was a tie for third place in 1994. Aaron Durley is a former Little League baseball player for the team.

Dhahran in popular culture[edit]

  • In 1998, after the kidnapping and murder of Matthew Shepard, a Wyoming college student, the major American news networks would occasionally mention that the student's parents lived in Dhahran and worked for Aramco.
  • In Abdelrahman Munif's Cities of Salt novels, the oil-company outpost of Harran is widely believed to be Dhahran's fictional analogue.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Extreme Temperatures Around the World". Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Climate Normals for Dhahran". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Samenow, Jason (July 3, 2013). "Washington, D.C. can feel hotter than Death Valley at its hottest". The Washington Post. 
  4. ^ "Climatological Information for Dhahran, Saudi Arabia". Hong Kong Observatory. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  5. ^ Cohen, Saul B. The Columbia Gazeteer of the World (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998) p. 828
  6. ^ Columbia-Lippincott Gazeteer (New York: Columbia University Press, 1952) p. 510
  7. ^ " Contact Us." Saudi Aramco. Retrieved 5 November 2009.
  8. ^ Some interesting oil industry statistics Gibson Consulting. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  9. ^ a b c "Dhahran". The Columbia Encyclopedia (6 th ed.). The Columbia University. 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013.  – via Questia (subscription required)
  10. ^ I. Andrew (28 February 1998). "Ambassador Parker T. Hart (1910-1997)". Washington Report on Middle East Affairs XI (5). Retrieved 20 January 2014.  – via Questia (subscription required)

External links[edit]