Dammam is known for being a major administrative center for the Saudi oil industry. Dammam constitutes the core of the Dammam metropolitan area
, also known as the Greater Dammam area, which comprises the 'Triplet Cities' of Dammam, Dhahran
. The area has an estimated population of 4,140,000 as of 2012 and is closely linked to the city through social, economic, and cultural ties. The city is growing at an exceptionally fast rate of 12% a year
– the fastest in Saudi Arabia, the GCC
, and the Arab world
As of 2016, Greater Dammam is the 4th largest metropolitan area by both area and population in the Gulf Cooperation Council
The area that eventually became Dammam was settled by the barbz tribe around 1923, with permission of King Ibn Saud
. The area was originally a fishing hamlet and was developed into its current state within half a century soon after the discovery of oil in the region, both as a port city
and an administrative center
. With the unification of Saudi Arabia
, Dammam was made the capital of the newly formed Eastern Province.
Dammam is also a member-city in the World Energy Cities Partnership (WECP).
The origins of the name Dammam are disputed. Some suggest the name is onomatopoeic
and was given to the area because of a drum positioned in a nearby keep, which was sounded in a pattern called damdamah
to alert the residents of returning fishermen's ships; others say that the name comes from the word dawwama
(whirlpool), indicating a nearby site that fishing dhows
usually had to avoid. Yet others say it originates from the Sanskrit word "Dharma", or the Pali word "Dhamma". It is said that the city derives its name from the time when knowledge in its pure form was distributed around the world during the reign of Emperor Ashoka by Dhammadoots (messengers of Dharma).
Dammam was founded in 1923 by the Al Dawasir
tribe that migrated from Bahrain
after King Abdul Aziz
allowed them to settle within the area. The tribe initially settled in Khobar
, which was chosen for its proximity to the island of Bahrain as the tribe had hoped to go back there soon, but the British made it tough for them to maneuver. However, this gave the population of Khobar a lift, together with the formation of close ties with the larger city of Dammam.
Search for and discovery of oil (1932-1940s)
When the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
was founded in 1932, the region was the location of several hamlets that relied on fishing
for their survival. Over a span of fewer than six decades, it was developed into a productive hub of industry, commerce, and science, and quickly became home to around 1,000,000 people. The area's transformation began with the discovery of oil in commercial quantities in 1936, when Aramco, the predecessor of the national company, Saudi Aramco
, dug the famous Dammam Well No. 7, now designated the 'Prosperity Well,' that proved that the kingdom possessed an oversized supply of hydrocarbons.
Phase of rapid growth (1940s-1960s)
The discovery of recent oil fields
around Dammam within the 1940s and 50s, which now account for 25% of the world's proven oil reserves, triggered a construction boom. The Al Bin Ali
family, led by Sheikh Muhammad bin Nasir Al Bin Ali
and his brothers, played a vital role in the development of town and also the region in various fields. Their company, Al Bin Ali and Brothers, was the primary Saudi construction company that took part within the expansion of Aramco. a number of their projects were the roads connecting Dammam to the northern oil wells, Highway 40
, which connected Dammam to Riyadh
; now referred to simply as the Dammam Road, and multiple expansions of the King Abdul Aziz Port
. This led to experts and technicians from in and round the kingdom gathering to assist in the hunt for new oil fields and bring them on-stream. New pipelines, storage facilities, and jetties were also constructed to handle tankers.
Service industries sprouted up to support the industry and meet the needs and requirements of individuals living within the newly founded metropolitan area. As it has in other parts of the dominion, the Ministry of Health has established several modern hospitals and a network of healthcare facilities within the Dammam Area. These are supplemented by hospitals and clinics operated by the private sector.
Modern history (1960s-present)
Within a few decades, a locality that had several hundred inhabitants some sixty years ago now boasts a population of more than 1.5 million, and is still growing at a sustained high rate.
The Dammam area, unlike other oil towns, has developed in multiple fields. Including hosting the administration of the Saudi oil industry, it is also a contemporary urban and industrial center. As this sector was growing within the early years, the Saudi government took steps to facilitate the evolution of the area. New roads and highways connected the booming city to other urban and industrial centers within the Kingdom. A railway line connected Dammam to the agricultural center of Kharj
and on to Riyadh
. Dhahran International Airport
was established to further enhance the region's connection to other parts of the country and the world. Later, all commercial air transport facilities were transferred to the larger King Fahd International Airport
, approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles) northwest of Dammam.
To encourage the expansion of non-oil industries, an industrial city was established within the open space between the three cities. Now home to 124 factories, the first Industrial City of Dammam was quickly surrounded by an urban mass. As a result, a second industrial city was established further far from the Dammam Area along Highway 615. Located on nearly 6,000 acres of land, the 2nd Industrial City is already home to 120 factories, with 160 others under construction. These plants manufacture a range of products that are marketed throughout the kingdom and also exported to other countries. Handling such exports and other imports is carried out by several shipping agents and commercial companies spread throughout the area.
The Dammam Area was designed from the outset on the principles of contemporary urban planning. Residential areas are clearly separated from commercial ones, the roads are broad and straight and buildings conform to a plan. One of the most significant factors contributing to the growth of the area was land reclamation; vast stretches of the shallow Persian Gulf were reclaimed. Water is provided by desalination plants that pump approximately seven million cubic feet of treated water every day. The supply of water underpins the urban and industrial growth of the Dammam Area, and provisions are being made for expanding existing desalination facilities to satisfy future growth. Dammam is a member-city in the World Energy Cities Partnership (WECP).
Winter temperatures range from mild to warm, but regularly drop to as low as around 1 °C at night. Rainfall in Dammam is generally sparse, and usually occurs in small amounts in the winter months of November, December and January; with periodic heavy thunderstorms. Hail
generally falls during the colder months of December and January. Lighter showers occur during spring
but are much rarer.
Summer temperatures are extremely hot, owing to the region's geographic location; and continually exceed 40 °C (104 °F) during daylight hours
from March to October. Nights during summer generally feature temperatures higher than 35 °C (95 °F) and very high humidity
, due to the urban heat island
effect. Dust storms
, known locally as shamals,
are common in summer, and generally come from the north.
Extreme temperatures in the area have ranged from 50.3 °C (122.5 °F) on 20 June 2010 to 0.8 °C (33.4 °F) on 16 January 2008.
There is evidence that several building foundations and underground infrastructures in Dammam have been structurally weakened by a rising water table
. Various sources, including precipitation, seawater intrusion and leakage from underground water networks and sewage pipes, were anecdotally suspected to be contributors to the rising shallow water-table problem. A recent study by T. M. Iwalewa and others has revealed that leakages from drinking-water supply and sewage-collection pipe networks are the major contributors to the rise in the water table in the city. The study showed that the rising shallow water-table problem represents a serious threat to the present and future development of the city.
Dammam is served by the King Fahd International Airport
, the largest airport in the world in terms of land area. The passenger terminal is about 20 km to the northwest of the city and is connected by a 6-lane highway. Being the main airport in the Eastern Province, Dammam is well connected by air with other cities in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe. The airport is a hub for SaudiGulf Airlines
The King Abdul Aziz Sea Port
, located on the coast of the Persian Gulf
, is the second largest and second busiest port in Saudi Arabia
. It is also the largest port in the Persian Gulf. It was founded in the late 1940s. It has large equipment that allows it to receive various types of vessels. The most important equipments are 56 multi-purpose hoist, 8 container cranes, and 524 tanker containers. There are a number of berths for ships and fishing, as well as ship repair yard.
Eastern Province cities like Abqaiq
(Dammam-Khobar Highway), Ras Tanura
, Sihat and Qatif
), as well as many cities in other parts of the Kingdom are linked with Dammam by 8-lane highways. Dammam is connected to the Saudi capital, Riyadh
on the west coast by Highway 40
. It is also linked to Bahrain
by the 28 km long King Fahd Causeway
. Dammam also has highways to other Middle-Eastern countries such as Kuwait
(Abu Hadriyah Highway
and the United Arab Emirates
Dammam has no intra-city public transport service. Inter-city bus services are operated from Dammam by the Saudi Arabian Public Transport Company
(SAPTCO). Bus services connect Dammam with Khobar and other cities across the Middle East.
The headquarters of the Saudi Railways Organization
(SRO), one of Saudi Arabia's two railway operators, is in Dammam.
The passenger terminal in Dammam
was the first built in Saudi Arabia and was built in 1981. It is considered to be a major terminal in the Saudi railway network. SRO operates a 449 km passenger line that connects Dammam to Riyadh
. It also operates a 556 km cargo line starting at King Abdul Aziz Sea Port in Dammam and ending in a dry port
in Riyadh, passing by Hofuf, Abqaiq, Al-Kharj
and Al-Tawdhihiyah. In addition, some 373 km of auxiliary lines branch from SRO's main lines to connect some industrial and agricultural areas and military sites with export ports and residential areas.
Dammam will serve as an important junction on the proposed Gulf Railway
connecting all six GCC member states. The city is located along the proposed main line connecting Kuwait with Oman via Saudi Arabia and the UAE. A branch line connecting Bahrain to Dammam are also part of the proposed project.
Two future railway projects connecting Dammam to Jeddah
via Riyadh and Mecca
in the western region and Dammam with Jubail
have been proposed.
An integrated public transport system for Dammam was approved by the Council of Ministers
on 19 May 2014, and publicly announced by Mayor Fahad Al Jubair on 21 May 2014.
The project includes 50 km of light rail
, 110 km of bus rapid transit
, and 350 km of feeder
buses to link the outskirts of the city.
The light rail system will have two lines. The first line will link Tarout Island
with King Fahd Causeway
, Dammam and Dhahran
. The second line will connect central Dammam to the King Fahd International Airport
. Studies to finalize the alignment and location of the stations should have taken an estimated 18 months.
The Dammam Metro is expected to open in 2021, but its current official status is unknown.
As part of the Saudi Government's Vision 2030 program that aims at diversifying the non-oil revenues in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Public Investment Fund
(PIF) has planned to establish entertainment destinations in the Eastern Province. This would include the establishment of amusement parks
and the building of several entertainment facilities such as theatres
The King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) is planned to be established by ARAMCO between Dammam and Ahsa
. covering an area of 50 km2
Prince Mohammed bin Fahd Stadium in Dammam
In 1950, Dammam had a population of 22,000. By the year 2000, the population soared to 759,000 people. Dammam was the world's 10th fastest growing city in terms of population growth rates during that 50-year period.
According to a report released by the Central Department of Statistics and Information, the population of Dammam was 903,000 as of December 2010, making it the sixth most populous city in Saudi Arabia and the most populous in the Eastern Province.
According to statistics released by the Ministry of Economy and Planning, in 2011, home ownership among Saudi citizens in Dammam was 42.4%.
Dammam Medical Complex (also known as the Dammam Central Hospital)
The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health oversees the medical facilities across the kingdom. Hospitals and polyclinics located in the urban core of Dammam tend to be concentrated around one central building. Some of the public/government-funded hospitals operated directly by the MoH include the Dammam Medical Complex (also known as the Dammam Central Hospital), the King Fahd Specialist Hospital (KFSH) which shares its compound the Maternity and Children's Hospital (MCH), and the Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal Hospital which shares its compound with the Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University. Two hospitals targeting members of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces
are the Security Forces Hospital and the King Fahd Military Medical Complex.
In addition to these public hospitals and polyclinics, several private hospitals and medical centers are also present within Dammam. The most well-known of these is the AGH Dammam or Al Mana Group of Hospitals, Dammam which is part of the Al Mana Group of Hospitals run by Ebrahim Al Mana and Bros., which claims to be the largest medical company & healthcare provider in the Eastern Province
Other private hospitals in and around the city include the Arrawdha Hospital, Al Mouwasat Hospital, the Dammam Private Medical Complex (Formerly Dammam Medical Dispensary), Gama Hospital (formerly Astoon Hospital), among others. One of the largest medical complexes in the kingdom, the Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Complex is located between Dammam and Khobar
off Highway 605.
Dammam has a large number of schools, universities and colleges. Schools teaching various syllabus and in several different languages of instruction can be found.
Primary and secondary education
Higher education and research
The Dammam Governorate (Arabic
: محافظة الدمّام
) is one of the 12 governorates
of the Eastern Province.
The governorate includes parts of other cities in the Dammam metropolitan area
, most notably the entirety of Dhahran
, as the city is not part of its own governorate. The majority of its area besides the cities of Dammam and Dhahran is uninhabited desert, with the two major exceptions being the King Fahd International Airport
and the Second Industrial City of Dammam.
The governorate is bounded by the Persian Gulf
to the northeast and the Khobar Governorate
to the southeast. To its south lies Half Moon Bay
, while its west is covered by the comparatively larger governorates of Jubail
in the northwest and Buqayq
in southwest. Its northern reaches are bordered by the smaller Qatif Governorate
to the northwest and the Tarout Bay to the northeast.
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