Dhahran is a city located in Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, and is a major administrative center for the Saudi oil industry. It forms part of the Dammam Metropolitan; the Dammam metropolitan area, or greater Dammam, is the metropolitan area associated with the city of Ad Dammam, Eastern Province, and its suburbs. It is the area that is closely linked to the city through social, economic, and cultural ties. The Dammam metropolitan area—mainly known as greater Dammam—is the largest metropolitan area in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia formed by three main neighboring cities: Dammam, Dhahran, and Khobar. These three respectable cities are sometimes referred to as the triplet cities. The metropolitan area of the triplet cities has an estimated population of 4,140,000 as of 2012. Greater Dammam also includes many other smaller cities such as Al Qatif, Safwa, and Ras Tanura. The complete metropolitan area has an estimated population of 5,100,000, making it the fifth largest populated area in the Kingdom.
Large oil reserves were first identified in the Dhahran area in 1931, and in 1935, Standard Oil drilled the first commercially viable oil well. Standard Oil later established a subsidiary in Saudi Arabia called the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO), now fully owned by the Saudi government and known as Saudi Aramco. Dhahran has been Saudi Aramco's headquarters for 80 years and is its first and largest gated compound with more than 9,700 residents. Employees and dependents of Aramco, known as Aramcons, have a tendency to use Dhahran to solely refer to the Aramco camp while using Khobar and/or Dammam to refer to the area outside the camp. The Saudi Aramco Residential Camp makes up most of the city of Dhahran today.
Dhahran is a short distance west of downtown Khobar. It is about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) south of Dammam. Both are older Saudi port cities on the coast of the Persian Gulf. Looking farther afield, Dhahran is northeast of Abqaiq, and southeast of Qatif and, further north, Ras Tanura, a major oil port. The island of Kingdom of Bahrain is also within easy driving distance to the east (about 20 miles (32 km)), across the King Fahd Causeway, from Khobar.
The patch of desert on which the city is built is hilly and rocky, and most of the earliest productive oil wells in Saudi Arabia were drilled in the area, such as Dammam Well #7: "Prosperity Well," the first commercially viable oil well in Saudi Arabia in the 1930s. This well is still in production 70 years later. This later led to the selection of two barren nearby hills as the place for Aramco to construct its headquarters.The Dhahran-Dammam area is one of two regions, the other being Jeddah, that were selected as potential sites to build the first Saudi nuclear reactor.
Dhahran’s climate is characterized by hot, humid summers, and cold long winters. Temperatures can rise to more than 40 °C (100 °F) in the summer, coupled with extreme humidity (85&ndash100%), given the city’s proximity to the Persian Gulf. The highest recorded temperature in Dhahran is 51.1 °C (124.0 °F). In winter, the temperature rarely falls below −2 °C (28 °F), with the lowest ever recorded being −5 °C (23 °F) in January 1964. Rain falls almost exclusively between the months of November and May. The Shamal winds usually blow across the city in the early months of the summer, bringing dust storms that can reduce visibility to a few metres. These winds can last for up to six months. On July 8, 2003, the dew point was 35 °C (95 °F) while the temperature was 42 °C (108 °F), resulting in a heat index of 68 to 71 °C (154 to 160 °F), one of the highest heat indexes in the world.