Khobar is a large city located in the Eastern Province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf. It has a population of 165,799 (2004 census) and forms part of the greater Dammam metropolitan area along with Dhahran, which together have a combined population of over one million. All three urban centers are served by the King Fahd International Airport.
City residents in the original downtown area are mainly Saudi nationals and non-Western expatriates . European and American expatriate workers not employeed by Saudi Aramco typically live in expat compounds scattered in the greater Khobar-Dammam area surrounded by fences or walls and guarded by security gates. Inside, a greater degree of cultural freedom is possible than outside the walls in the main urban center. Some larger corporations (e.g. British Aerospace) have maintained their own compounds to house (and attract) expat employees. Because of the comforts and greater freedoms found in compounds, they have attracted a wide range of ethnicities able to afford the lifestyle, including some Saudi families.
Many of Khobar's residents work for Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil company, in nearby Dhahran. Other residents work in support roles. Traditionally, Khobar has also been a city of shopkeepers and merchants, and the city today boasts numerous modern malls and boulevards with internationally-recognized franchise shops and eating places. There is a Pakistani school, Pakistan International School; where children of most of Pakistani residents study from kindergarten to 12th grade, as well as a Filipino school and at last count, three English medium international schools.
In earlier days, Khobar was a small port on the Persian Gulf, a fishing village inhabited mainly by Al Dawasir tribe members. With the discovery of oil in the 1930s, it was transformed into a major commercial and shopping center and, secondarily, an industrial port. In modern times, the larger port of Dammam has taken over most commercial shipping activities for the Eastern Province, and oil is exported via the dedicated Saudi Aramco port of Ras Tanura. As a result, Khobar has transformed and extended its waterfront along the Gulf into a scenic Beirut-like corniche with parks, eateries, and family beaches.
The 16 mile King Fahd Causeway connects Khobar to the island nation of Bahrain, previously reachable only by air or sea.
The city is divided into four areas: Khobar, Subekha, Thuqba and Aqrabia. While Khobar, Subekha and Thuqba are mainly commercial areas with not much residential scope, Aqrabia consists of mostly residential complexes, accommodating about 50% of the city's population.
The city used to have a model of the space shuttle Discovery to commemorate the space flight of Sultan Salman Al Saud, the first Saudi in space (on STS-51-G).
Together, Khobar, Dhahran and Dammam are often known as "the triplet cities".
Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia
Khobar Towers bombing
King Fahd Causeway
Al Rashid Mall