Yanbu City Profile
Yanbu was established thousands of years ago when early Egyptian traders crossed the Red Sea, establishing land routes into Jordan, to the north, and Jeddah, to the south. This area is referred to as Old Yanbu, the historical part of the town. Modern Yanbu is a short distance away.
This city was developed along with Jubail in the Eastern Province as an industrial city. Built on a smaller scale than its eastern cousin Yanbu comprises petrochemical & non hydrocarbon facilities plus a refinery & also the terminal of the East-West pipeline.
Geography & Location
Yanbu' al Bahr (Arabic, “spring by the sea”), industrial and port city in Saudi Arabia, located on the Red Sea coast in Madinah Province, about 350 km (about 220 mi) north of Jiddah. About one third of the city’s 185 square kms consists of industrial sites.
Yanbu has a great advantage in its location. It is very near to the Suez Canal opening it to the European market for its produces. Yanbu is in the middle of Americas and the Far East. The city is located far off from the major oil fields of the Kingdom but intra-country pipelines convey crude oil and natural gas liquid to the petrochemical industries.
‘Yanbu', as the city is commonly known, is the western terminus of parallel pipelines that carry liquefied natural gas and oil across nearly 1300 km (nearly 800 mi) of desert and mountains. The town is a growing industrial center with three large oil refineries, a petrochemical complex, and a large desalination plant. Industries using gas and oil as raw materials make a variety of consumer products, including plastics. Yanbu' is connected with the rest of the country by a modern highway system. It also has an airport, a large commercial port, and a naval base. During the 1st millennium BC Yanbu' al Bahr was a stopping point for merchant caravans on the incense route that extended from Yemen to the Mediterranean Sea. Later it also served as a resting site for Muslim pilgrims traveling to Mecca and Medina. In 1975 the Saudi government chose Yanbu and Al Jubayl, a small town on the Persian Gulf coast, to be developed as modern industrial cities. Both play a central role in diversifying Saudi Arabia's economic base so that the country is not dependent solely on crude oil exports.
Population (1993 estimate) 40,000.
Twenty years ago, all that could be seen at Yanbu was an insignificant Red Sea fishing port, surrounded by an arid coastal plain. Today, Yanbu Industrial City together with its port ranks as one of the exporting giants of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The construction of this ultra-modern industrial base in such a short time must surely be counted as one of the Kingdom's most astonishing achievements.
Back in the 1960s, Saudi Arabia's vast petroleum deposits were still being largely extracted by foreign countries, thirty years on from the first discovery of oil. The dramatic rise in oil prices, however, which began in the early seventies, heralded a glowing social and economic future for the Kingdom. The dream to establish Saudi Arabia as a top worldwide industrial exporter could at last begin to take shape.
The first step was taken with a Royal Decree in 1975, which first established the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu. In 1977, after two years of hard work, the Commission completed a 30-year Master Plan, which laid down guidelines for the conversion of a staggering 54,362 acres (22,000 hectares) of undeveloped desert land for residential and industrial use.
Four basic industrial categories were to be established. The first category, Primary Industries, incorporated all petroleum-based or energy-intensive industries. Secondary Industries included production industries using raw materials from the first category. Support Industries and Light Manufacturing Industries were categorized as those which produce materials or services needed by the first two categories.
Industrial City & Royal Commission
The new Industrial City of Yanbu was planned as the spearhead for the modernization of the whole of Saudi Arabia's rural northwestern coastal region. It would also provide a new strategic outlet on Red Sea shipping lanes, to handle most of the Kingdom's sea-borne trade. Planners envisaged a city with housing and lifestyle facilities second to none, and an urban population, which would exceed 100,000 by the year 2020. The Royal Commission planned 14 neighborhoods, or residential districts in the new city, which was to be known as "Yanbu Industrial City" (Madinat Yanbu Al-Sinaiyah).
After an initial injection of government money, the strategy was to provide incentives for increasing private investment. The Royal Commission sought to achieve this by the establishment of functioning primary and support industries, and by building an attractive residential environment for both management and workforce. The Commission's first priority was therefore to establish a physical infrastructure, capable of supplying the needs of this growing urban community.
The city of Yanbu epitomizes practicality, efficiency and respect for tradition, and represents one of Saudi Arabia's supreme achievements.
Yanbu Industrial City is being developed under the direction of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu. Established in 1975 the Commission is responsible for providing the entire infrastructure, both physical and social, needed to construct and operate the huge industrial developments at Jubail and Yanbu. In addition, the Royal Commission is in charge of community and human resources development, environmental protection and the promotion of private-sector investment in two cities. Yanbu is currently host to 15 heavy hydrocarbons, petrochemical and mineral facilities as well as 30 light manufacturing and support industries. There are many big industries in the pipeline at various stages of construction. In Yanbu the world-class refining and petrochemical complexes convert oil and natural gas into products for export and into feedstock for local manufacturers.
The required infrastructure like power, road, port, desalination unit for providing drinking water and telecommunications network are available in both the cities. The Royal Commission’s role in industrial development of this area is substantial.
Yanbu’s telecommunications systems provide modern, citywide communications services, as well as linkage to the rest of the world. These systems were installed incrementally; starting with interim facilities geared to construction support operations. These included land and mobile telephone networks, telex equipment; microwave links Mobile Radio, Paging System and emergency services. Later, marine radio for the port, air traffic control systems for Yanbu Airport and cable television were added.
The Yanbu telephone system offers fully automatic access to domestic and international networks, thanks to a broad range of technologies, microwave systems, a satellite relay and digital switching.
A top requirement for modern international business is an efficient communications system, and again the Royal Commission surpassed itself. Direct dial fiber-optic and satellite relays carry telephone, telex and fax communications around the world, and a new cable TV station broadcasts programs throughout the day. Over 12,000 telephone and four telex lines can handle 168 simultaneous users on a 'time share' system and by a mobile radio paging system. The Emergency Services Control Centre is computer-controlled.
Yanbu Industrial City parallels King Abdul Aziz Road, the highway connecting Jeddah-Madinah Highway and communities up the coast. Six lanes wide within the city, this main artery forms the spine of the industrial development in the area. Feeder and collector roads branch off to community and industrial zones.
The Yanbu road network, which consists of nearly 460 Kilometers of paved surface, provides for rapid, safe and convenient travel within the city. The primary road grid in the residential area helps define and enclose the community’s 14 districts. Traffic flow is regulated by a computerized and synchronized traffic control system.
Besides roads, pedestrian paths link residential zones with neighboring commercial centers and other high-use areas, such as apartments, schools and recreational facilities. Pleasantly landscaped, those paths are an integral part of the community’s open-space and recreation plan, and greatly contribute to Yanbu’s “pedestrian-friendly” city layout.
Yanbu Airport is located six Kilometers from Yanbu Al-Bahr and 25 Kilometers from the industrial city. In use since 1979, the airport includes a 3,210-meter-long, 45-meter-wide runway, with a control tower and passenger terminal, requisite navigational systems, and modern cargo handling facilities. Although most of the air traffic consists of small and medium-sized aircraft, B-747 Jumbo Jets and even the Concorde have used the airport on occasion.
Yanbu Airport currently handles regularly scheduled flights by Saudi Arabian Airlines to and from Jeddah and Riyadh.
Yanbu – King Fahd Industrial Port
Yanbu Commercial Port is located on the East coast of Red Sea approximately 460 nautical miles South of Suez Canal and 168 nautical miles (128 miles/206 km) North-West of Jeddah and has storage facilities for all types of goods, in addition to a modern pilgrims’ hall. It is a natural harbor sheltered by the mainland to the North and East and by coral reefs to the South and South-East. It is reached by a mile long channel.
Extending along 15 Kilometers of coastline, Yanbu’s King Fahd Industrial Port is the largest oil and Petrochemical exporting complex on the Red Sea. Completed by the Royal Commission in 1982 and operated by the Saudi Arabian Seaports Authority since 1984, the port comprises seven terminals with 25 berths, a service harbor, bulk cargo and container handling equipment, and marine support facilities. The port handles crude oil from the Eastern Province delivered through the East-West Pipelines.
Over the years, the crude oil terminal has pumped billions of barrels of oil destined for markets around the world.
Dredged to a depth of 32 meters, the terminal consists of four loading berths connected to shore by a trestle and causeway. Two berths can be used concurrently providing maximum loading rate of 300,000 barrels per hour.
Yanbu Commercial Port is the nearest major Saudi seaport to Europe and North America and is the focal point of the most rapidly growing area on the Red Sea. Traditionally it has served as the nearest gateway for seaborne pilgrims bound for the holy city of Madinah. Port expansion in 1979 increased the capacity to nine berths with modern facilities and equipment. It can handle in excess of 3 million tons of cargo per year.
Yanbu Commercial Port played a major role in development of many refineries and project plants by handling huge quantities of general cargo, project cargo, heavy lifts, containers and various construction material (including bulk cement / clinker) in the early years. Today export of bulk cement and clinker is handled at this port. Millions of tons of bulk-barley is regularly handled at this port for onward distribution to various parts of the country.
The construction of the new port facilities at Yanbu probably ranks as the greatest single item in the city's amazing transformation.
Yanbu Industrial City is more than industry and infrastructure. It is a thriving international community that offers its residents the means to lead comfortable, secure and satisfying lives. These include spacious and attractive housing, excellent educational and health care facilities and numerous shops, parks and recreational opportunities.
Every effort has been made to give Yanbu's residents a comfortable lifestyle and attractive environment. Private business has now taken over from the original Royal Commission, and an estimated population of 113,000 is expected in ten years' time.
While Yanbu is totally modern, it is unmistakably Arab. Traditional architectural features the many mosques and minarets, the abundance of fountains and greenery-all proclaim the city’s Arabic and Islamic character. These and other reminders of a familiar way of life permeate the community, attracting new residents, reassuring older ones and contributing immeasurably to everyone’s quality of life.
It is a small wonder that, in only two and half decades, a barren patch of desert has blossomed into a full-blown residential community.
Recreation plays an important role in communities like Yanbu consisting mostly of young people. To satisfy residents’ leisure and recreation needs, the Royal Commission has developed a wide variety of recreation facilities, conveniently located throughout the city.
Residential areas, for example, are inter-spersed with playgrounds, parks and football fields. More specialized facilities, such as tennis and squash courts, gymnasiums and swimming pools are located in large sports centers. These facilities serve the entire community and are sometimes used for inter-city and national events.
To help people develop their minds and pursue cultural interests, the Royal Commission has provided a broad spectrum of facilities, including museum, libraries, auditoriums, and assembly halls. The latter are used for such events as lectures, conferences, folkloric and theatrical shows and exhibitions.
With beautiful waterfronts nearby, it is not surprising that sailing, fishing and other water sports are popular at Yanbu. The city operates a marina and has developed stretches of beachfront for swimming and picnicking.
Yanbu diving is generally outstanding! The visibility is normally better than Jeddah, as well as the number and size of fish, Soft coral is abundant along the coast due to the strong currents there.
The main scuba diving location is an empty beach located north of Yanbu's creek.
The reef consists of a steeply sloping wall in most places that goes down to around 100 feet or more before reaching a less steeply sloped sandy bottom. Occasionally there are sandy shelves at between 70 and 30 feet. There are many cavern-like structures in the shallow areas at the top of the wall, but don't go very far back.
The site known as Barracuda Beach and Coral Gardens have always been the favorite. Barracuda Beach is a deep area where barracuda are known to congregate, as well as tuna, sharks and other larger fish. Coral Gardens is a shallow area of sloping sand where corals bloom beautifully and the current can be extremely swift. At the reef edge, it’s about 15 feet deep, great for ending the dive.
The Royal Commission Diving Center in Yanbu is one of the community’s oldest civic-minded recreational organizations. Its members are dedicated to preserving the natural wonder and ecology of the Red Sea reefs, in keeping with their motto “Take only pictures – leave no footprints”.
The Diving Center started out in 1980 as a club formed by a small group of expatriate divers, who had come to Yanbu as engineers and construction workers. They knew that the nearby Red Sea reefs were among the best diving sites in the world. Fortunately, some of those early members were qualified instructors, who began to pass their knowledge on the other club members.
By the mid 1980s, the club had achieved recognition by the Saudi Government and had received several commendations for community services. Rescue divers and instructors were being called upon to search for victims of flash flood and drowning. During holiday periods, rescue divers worked with the Frontier Forces, patrolling certain swimming and boating areas. As a result of these activities, the organization places great emphasis on training in emergency rescue procedures, underwater extrication and resuscitation both at sea and on the land.
The Yanbu Diving Center has a long and distinguished record of community service, of which its members are justifiably proud.
Parks and Landscaping
In many ways, the community’s open space is as important as its built-up areas. Dense development may save on infrastructure costs, but usually at the expense of quality of life. Realizing this, the Royal Commission instructed the master planners for Jubail and Yanbu to provide numerous public parks and ample open space in the city plans. As a result, a monumental landscaping program has been implemented. Now, residential neighborhoods, public buildings, roadsides, and even factory boundaries feature a variety of plant life.
To date, over 250,000 trees and shrubs have been planted at Yanbu amid some 1500 hectares of grass and other ground cover.
Irrigation of planting is simplified by a network of underground pipes that conveys water to spot drippers and sprinklers. Most of the water used for irrigation is reclaimed potable water that has been upgraded in the Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant.
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