City - Yanbu
Yanbu is an industrial port city located on the Red Sea, north of Jeddah in the Medinah Province. Like its twin city, Yanbu, on the Arabian Gulf, it is a part of a unique experiment in city development. Yanbu has oil refineries, a petrochemical complex, a large desalination plant, and a naval base, and is the western terminus of parallel pipelines that carry natural gas and oil across 800 miles of desert and mountains. But it is not strictly industrial. Yanbu has a range of recreational facilities—sports centers, tennis and squash courts, gymnasiums, and swimming pools—to serve its generally young populace. It also has a cultural life: a museum, libraries, auditoriums, and assembly halls. Yanbu’s population is 188,430 (2004), many of whom are expatriates.
Yanbu’s history goes back 2500 years, to when the city was located on the spice and incense route from Yemen to Egypt and the Mediterranean. Yanbu also served as an operational base for British and Arab forces fighting the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
The city is divided into three villages: the Town (Al-Balad), which houses most of the people and contains the shopping centers, Yanby Al-Nakhel, which is very old and contains many farms, and Yanbu Al-Sina’iya, the industrial city, which has strikingly modern architecture. There is a marina with beautiful stretches of beachfront for picnicking and for sailing, fishing, and other water sports. Scuba diving is very popular in Yanbu—especially at Barracuda Beach, where tuna, sharks, and other large fish are to be found, and Coral Gardens, where corals bloom along the reefs. (There are said to be places where women are free to swim without wearing an abaya.) The Royal Commission Diving Center, which began as a diving club in 1980, is now actively involved in the preservation of the Red Sea coral reefs, and in helping with emergency rescue, underwater extrication, and resuscitation.
Yanbu is connected to the rest of the country by a modern highway system. Yanbu has its own airport, where it is inexpensive to rent cars. The city is also served by the airports in Madinah and Jeddah. Yanbu has an International School with an American curriculum and an expanded ESL program. Yanbu Industrial College offers continuing education as well as industrial programs. This is a city with opportunities for western teachers who can appreciate having both an organized athletic and cultural life and access to the natural beauty of the Red Sea coastline.