By Eman Bukhari
We explore the many names of Jubail.
The people tell a city’s history, but Jubail’s story is captured through its different names, from Jubail to Jubail Al Balad, Jubail Industrial City and soon Jubail Industrial City II.
Ask any grandfather from Jubail about the city and he will tell you about Jubail Al Balad and take you back to the time when sea diving and the pearl industry were the source of livelihood for the small village. He might also tell you a story from his childhood about the building of one of the most valuable heritage sites in Jubail, Al Tawyyah Fort, by order of King Abdualziz in 1929 to protect the city’s main water well. He will also describe to you the excitement of the village when the first team of geologists arrived in 1933 to search for oil.
Ask an engineer living in Jubail about the city and he’ll tell you about Jubail Industrial City and how a Royal Decree in 1975 established the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu to lead Saudi Arabia into the petrochemical industry. From the city’s name, you will not be surprised to know that it is home to the largest petrochemical installations in the Middle East, a recognized naval base, seaports and one of the largest independent water and power projects in the world. He might also tell you that the Industrial City is in the 1983 Guinness Book of World Records for being the “largest engineering and construction project ever attempted.”
However, the area has been recorded in books long before the rise of the Industrial City. Jubail was named after a mountain located in a body of water in the northeast coastline that is now mostly underwater. Seven thousand years ago the area hosted the Dilmun civilization, one of the oldest civilizations in the Arabian Gulf. Their role in history as trade partners and the area’s rich natural resources are mentioned in the ancient Mesopotamian poem, “Epic of Gilgamesh.”
Before the modern seaports, there was Al Mrdomh, a military defense fort from 1st century BC, now an archeological site. Then there are the ancient ruins of the city of Gerrha, which are estimated to date back to the 3rd century BC. These sites are planned to open as museums to the public and are an example of Saudi Arabia’s rich history that is being discovered across the Kingdom and reflected by the land, its people and the rich names of its cities.