Sunny, Sandy, Scenic Jubail
On the east coast of the Kingdom, Jubail has plenty to offer.
Everyone knows Jubail is one of the largest industrial cities in the world. What is less well-known is that the city has beautiful recreational areas, including its beaches and parks.
The city, which has a population of 150,000 residents, is 110 kilometers (km) north of Dhahran and possesses 40 km of coastline dotted with sandy beaches, walking trails, and other recreational facilities.
The Al-Nakheel Corniche is the first beach in the south of Jubail. It tends to be quiet and is ideal for relaxing and picnicking.
The Al-Fanateer Corniche is livelier. It is opposite the downtown area and has plenty of restaurants and shops. There is always a stream of people walking and jogging here at night. Its beauty is augmented by the well-kept landscape. While certain beaches are clearly designated for swimming, this is a public area and visitors should dress appropriately.
A number of beach camps and business centers have been constructed on the southwest of Al-Batinah Island, the second largest island in the Arabian Gulf. Once across the causeway, the island is pristine and calm. Access is restricted to the largest island in the Gulf, Abu Ali Island, which is further north.
The area between Abu Ali Island and Ras al-Khair is the Jubail Marine Wildlife Sanctuary, which covers a total of 2,410 km2, including five atolls, according to the National Center for Wildlife. The center supervises the reserve, and people can apply to visit via the website. Check first as visits might be restricted due to COVID-19.
In the aftermath of the Gulf War oil spill in 1991, studies showed the need for a marine sanctuary to monitor the impact of pollution and preserve the area’s biodiversity, according to the center’s website. Research has shown a recovery in marine life.
For those wanting an inland experience, there are many parks, including Al-Deffi Park and Al-Andalus Park. They are opposite to each other, and have numerous picnic areas and running trails. The designers of Al-Deffi Park minimized structures to allow people to reconnect with 451,600 m2 of nature.
A 10-minute drive west of the parks, a new campus for Jubail University College is in the late stages of construction and will eventually accommodate up to 18,000 students. Across the highway, crews are working on mixed use high-rise buildings and a tower for SABIC.
Driving gives a visitor perspective on the sheer size of the industrial accomplishment. After going up the empty Jubail-Dhahran highway, passing by Jubail City, and then entering Expressway 1, you will be surrounded by gigantic factories and associated infrastructure.
Jubail Industrial City is an impressive feat of engineering and urban planning. It is the fruit of the leadership’s vision to diversify the economy beyond exporting crude oil. The 1975 Royal Decree to establish the Royal Commission of Jubail and Yanbu’ was the birth of twin cities on opposite coasts.
Ancient, Industrious Jubail
In 1968, an archeological site with a pottery complex was discovered near Jubail.
The site provided evidence of a thriving human civilization from the late sixth to early fifth millennium B.C. It is only one of 60 sites discovered around the Gulf.
The Jubail site is important because it contains 15,000 ceramic shards, and there is a potential for more. The shards are mostly fragmented, but scientists were able to piece them, and the inhabitants, together.
The ancient people traded with Ubaid, a civilization in South Mesopotamia. Some scholars argue that this relationship forms one of the oldest marine trading networks in the world.
In an article published in 2014, in the Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, researchers found that 80% of the materials were attributed to Ubaid. The remaining 20% came from a different source, which scholars interpret as an independent, indigenous ceramic tradition.