Last week was Bahrain and this week we had to take off somewhere again. This week, yet again, I had planned to stay at home and have a peaceful weekend but in some corner of my mind I had wondered if it would be an idea to go some place again. What I had in mind was Jubail. Coincidently, Z! had been toying the idea too and so, when he mentioned it, I was all game for it and ready to go.
Jubail, is an industrial city in the eastern region of Saudi Arabia close to the Persian Gulf. It is 100km (60miles) north east of Dammam and can be reached in less than an hour by car. Jubail is Saudi Arabia’s largest industrial city. (The other one is Yanbu al Bahr in the western region.) It has a port and a naval base and is supposed to be one of the best planned cities. I have never seen an Industrial city in Saudi Arabia. Yes, I have been to the Industrial areas in Jeddah and Riyadh and Dammam but Z! had remarked that they were nowhere comparable to Jubail. Ever since we first got to the Eastern region, Z! had been telling me about Jubail but I had been too tired of all the traveling to go anywhere. But this year, I have the mood, the energy and I am willing to go just about anywhere.
Thursday was spent at the beach and Friday, after the Friday prayers, we were off. We started our journey at around 2.30pm and then I didn’t need to see the time. I was too busy enjoying my trip to notice the notice the time but I do remember that it was after 7pm when we started our way back. The road to and from Jubail, the highway, has a couple of industries (Dammam) for a few miles and then there were nurseries and green houses for a few more miles. What I found amazing was that that part of Saudi Arabia has greenery. Small shrubs and little grass here and there with water too. I am not sure if it was that it had rained recently in that part or if the water was naturally present. ( It didn’t rain here and I am not sure if it rained there.) Anyway, there were nurseries there and I have already reminded myself thrice, that I need a few more plants. I believe it was after Safwa (a small town that is on the way), that we started to see the desert.
The city of Jubail is divided into Jubail-the city and Jubail-as-Sinaiyyah. Jubail-the city, is the proper city and Sinaiyyah, is where the Industries are. Sinaiyyah, by the way, means Industrial area. In Saudi Arabia, most of the cities that have an Industrial area have a Sinaiyyah. I have seen it in Riyadh, in Jeddah, in Dammam and now in Jubail. Around half an hour later, we saw the sign that said that the Sinaiyyah was straight ahead and that we had to take a turn to reach the city. We took the turn and instantly, I notice that Jubail is a beautiful a city. The roads were wide and had trees and flowers on either side of the road. we drove past the Naval base and into the city. We drove on and saw what seemed like the city center. Being Friday, it was crowded and we quickly drove on towards the Sea Port which was quite close by. Z! mentioned that being Friday, most of the crowd in the city has come in from the neighboring Sinaiyyah mainly on company buses and that they will be taken back in a few hours. I did notice that there were many expatriates and later, we saw men that seemed like workers from the factories or the seaport, playing cricket and volley ball on the beach. Jubail- the city, is quite small. It has only a few localities ( eight, to be precise) but it is quite evident that it is well planned and modern. I wondered if this is what existed before the Industrial city was built. (Jubail entered the Guinness book of records as being the largest engineering and construction work undertaken in 1983.) Before oil was discovered, most of the settlers that settled here came for the pearls. Oil was discovered in 1933.
We moved on further towards the Corniche. I must admit that I am totally in love with the beach in Jubail. It was windy and a little chilly that day but inspite of everything Corniche in Jubail was beautiful. And I didn’t even know that there was more to see!
photo by al-Barood
After spending half an hour or more at the Corniche we moved on towards the Sinaiyyah. On the way to Sinaiyyah, we took the turn towards the Royal Commission Housing. If I had any doubts about Jubail being any less developed, then they must have been all cleared because I have never seen anything more well planned than Jubail! It is beautiful, well planned, perfectly designed and at the end of it, all that I could say was that someone must have taken really a lot of interest in building this city and that someone must have been very intelligent. Saudi Arabia should be proud of Jubail. The roads were wide and clean, trees and flowers on either side and the traffic signals were so intelligent! Z! pointed out strange cuts in the road that worked as sensors. They turn the signal green as soon as you cross it and are about to stop. Cool huh? He said that these sensors were found only in Yanbu and Jubail. I love them. I wonder if I can buy them somewhere and keep them as souvenirs.
Anyway, the Royal Commission housing is where the real Jubail is. It has fabulous beaches. Fanateer and Nakheel Beach was what we visited and loved. Once again, may I add that I am totally in love with the beaches in Jubail. They even had decorated trash cans at Nakheel beach! (No, thank you, I don’t want that as a souvenir!) The housing area is one of the best and it was mainly a lot of villas. Rows of big beautiful villas, each more beautiful than the next. There were a couple of buildings too but I guess you can only term them as luxury apartments. The Sabic( Saudi Basic Industries) building is in Fanateer area of the Royal Commission housing. After visiting, the Royal Commision housing, what I felt was that it was really ‘ Royal’ Commission Housing. It is a dream place. Now how can I go and live there?
It was after maghrib and the sun was setting as we drove out of RCH and towards the Sinaiyyah. I could see huge petrochemical industries in the Horizon. Too bad I didn’t have a still camera with me and I haven’t been able to find a pic to describe what I saw. Jubail has about 136 or more heavy industries there. Not only is it that they have Petrochemical industries and refineries but also supporting industries for them. Jubail produces petrochemicals, fertilizers, methanol, plastic and steel. Apart from these it also produces some consumer goods and has one of the largest Saline Water Conversion Unit and Electricity producing plant. We couldn’t get into the Sinaiyyah area as they have high security there and only those who work or live there are allowed in. I was a little disappointed but we satisfied ourselves by seeing what we could from the outside.
We returned to the Jubail city, prayed Maghrib and then it was back home. I did take my Handy cam with me but was too starry eyed to record anything. In all, I think I like Jubail and undoubtedly, I’ll want to go there again. May be for a picnic this time, but… after I visit Ras Tanurah!