Photographic Memory: Dammam Fort – where two worlds met
For centuries, Dammam Fort was a strategic point for control of the trade routes of the Arabian Gulf.
Built on a coral reef near the coast and surrounded by sea at high tide, the original Dammam fort was built by Arabs, but most of its structures were built by the Portuguese in the 16th century when they gained power over al-Hasa and built fortifications along the coastline to extend their influence to southern Arabia and India.
For centuries, Dammam Fort was a strategic point for control of the trade routes of the Arabian Gulf and served as a base in many battles, notably for the notorious pirate Rahmah ibn Jabir in the 1820s.
The name “Dammam” probably originates from the sound of drums announcing the beginning or end of the pearl-diving season, a local activity dating back to the Stone Age. The Dammam Fort is said to have had a large drum for this purpose and to warn locals of invasion.
The fort was situated north of the current city until the 1950s, when it was pulled down for development.