City - Dhahran
Dhahran is on the Persian Gulf in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, close to the Saudi cities of Al-Khobar and Dammam, and within 20 miles of the island nation of Bahrain. As the worldwide headquarters of Saudi Aramco, the largest oil company in the world, Dhahran is the administrative center of the Saudi oil industry. The total population of Dhahran is 97,446 (2004 census). Most of the city’s residents live in the Saudi Aramco Residential Camp, a self-contained, access-controlled area complete with its own recreation facilities, golf course, jogging track, arcade, and movie theater. There are also suburban neighborhoods outside of the compound, such as Hay Al-Doha and Hay Al-Dana, where Aramco employees build their own homes. The city has several popular radio stations, satellite television companies, and internet service providers.
Dhahran has two architectural landmarks, both of which combine elements of classic Arab architecture with strikingly modern design: the Dhahran Air Terminal and the King Fahd University for Petroleum and Minerals. The former, which was designed by American-born Minoru Yamasaki, has graceful pointed arches and a mosque-like austerity. The latter, designed by Caudell, Rowlett, and Scott of Houston, Texas, juxtaposes the hilltop site and harsh terrain with domed roofs and colonnades of pointed arches. There are several shopping malls in Dhahran, the most popular of which are the Rashid Mall and the Dhahran Mall. The Dhahran Mall, with 300 stores, is one of the largest malls in the Kingdom.
The greater metropolitan area of Dhahran, Dammam, and Al Khobar is served by the King Fahad International Airport. Dhahran is linked to the capital Riyadh by train. Taxis are more widely used than buses within the city, but the compound operates its own bus services. Dhahran’s climate is extremely hot and humid in the summer and cool in the winter. Its rainy season is between November and May, and the Shamal winds start blowing across the city in the summer, bringing dust storms. The dress code, at least within the Aramco Residential Camp, is far more relaxed than elsewhere in Saudi Arabia; women can wear baggy clothes, and do not have to wear the abaya, the traditional long black overgarment.
There are many schools in Dhahran, public and private. And, in addition to the University for Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran has access to the nearby King Faisal University and Prince Mohammad bin Fahad University. This is a city with opportunities for Western teachers who like living within a modern, self-contained community.