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Introduction

Yanbu' al Bahr (Arabic: ينبع البحر‎, Yanbuʿ al-Baḥr, "spring by the sea"), also known simply as Yanbu, Yambo or Yenbo, is a major Red Sea port in the Al Madinah Province of western Saudi Arabia. It is approximately 300 kilometers northwest of Jeddah. Many residents are foreign expatriates working in the oil refineries and petrochemical industry, mostly from Asia, but there are also large numbers from the Middle East, Europe, and North America. Although the city is known for its industrial activities, it is now growing as a touristic destination. The beach is used for scuba-diving as well as swimming and relaxing in front of the white sandy shores.

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Neighbourhoods

Yanbu Al-Balad is the most northern part of Yanbu. The downtown area of Yanbu Al-Balad (which is also called Al-Balad) contains most of the population. Most of the restaurants here cater to the various ethnic groups in the area, although some also cater to residents in the Royal Commission. The area also contains some international chain restaurants, as well as some coffee shops. There is also a shopping mall and various shopping centers located here as well. The Holiday Inn Hotel and Novotel Hotel is located at the edge of this area, as is Yanbu Airport. Arabian Homes also have a gated private residential community compound catering to the expat population, and is located next to the Holiday Inn. Most of the residents tend to be lower and middle-class Saudi citizens, and well as mostly South Asian and lower and middle-class Arab and other Middle Eastern expatriates. Every year there is a flower festival at the outskirts of Yanbu that has attracted many viewers around Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries. Currently, the government is attempting to improve the old, historical area in downtown Yanbu, as many historical buildings are located there. Many are still in a serious state of disrepair. While most of Yanbu Al-Balad has a rather old, worn-out feel to it, parts of the city, particularly at the edges of the city, are starting to modernize, as new shopping centers, as well as a new shopping mall, have been built. Jarir Bookstore had also opened a branch in Yanbu Al-Balad.

Yanbu Al-Nakhal is a separate area, some 47 kilometers from the city (according to Google Maps), that has more than 20 villages such as Jabriyya, Suwaiq, Raihan, Mesharif, Ain-Ajlan, Madsos, Alnejil and Talaat Nazah, where mostly farms would be found. Currently (July 2018), most of the residents are local tribes, mostly from Johainah (Aljohani), Horob (Alharbi), and few from Ashraf. There are also some foreign nationals, mostly from south and east Asia, as well as some expatriate Arabs. Some of the local Saudis work on their own farms and trade in sheep and camels. The most notable village in Yanbu Al Nakhal is Jabriyya, where the local government office for the town is located. The village has a general hospital, a bank, three ATM machines, four well-serviced filling stations, a fire station, two notable malls, several recreational facilities among other things. The locals are very friendly and cordial in greetings and offering help. There is almost everything you need for basic livelihood in the neighborhood, however, the options for residents pales in comparison to both the Royal Commission and Yanbu Al Bahr. The Radwah Mountain is very visible anywhere in the town. However, the town has neither hotels nor international schools, and locals and expatriates seeking foreign education for their children had to send them to international schools in the main city center, Yanbu Al Bahr, or in the Royal Commission.

Yanbu Al-Sina'iya (literally "the industrial Yanbu") is the industrial city, established in 1975 by royal decree to create a Royal Commission to manage the effort to build a new modern city. It is the most southern part of Yanbu city. Yanbu Al-Sina'iya is divided into two parts, the industrial area to the south, and a residential area (referred to as the Royal Commission by many locals) directly north and adjacent to the industrial area. The industrial area within Yanbu Al-Sina'iya is the area of all the major refineries and petrochemical installations and is still undergoing major growth. This area of Yanbu was a strip of undeveloped coastal desert land on the Red Sea and has been transformed into an industrial city. Yanbu Al-Sina'iya's residential section is near the Royal Commission Headquarters. It has amenities such as many international chain and local restaurants, two shopping malls, various shopping centers, supermarkets of various sizes, hospitals, banks, and coffee shops. The Moevenpick Hotel, Yanbu's newest hotel, is located here, as is The Cove, a gated private residential housing compound built around a large private lagoon. Yanbu Al Sinaiyah is home to Yanbu Industrial College, created for training and imparting knowledge for the students and workforce of the industry. Yanbu International School was also located here, prior to its closing in 2018. The majority of Yanbu's Western expatriate population is found living in the Royal Commission. The rest of the residents of Yanbu Al-Sina'iya tend to be upper-middle and upper-class Saudi citizens, upper-class Asians, and upper-class Arab and Middle Eastern residents. The residential area of Yanbu Al-Sina'iya has a more modern, clean, and organized feel to it than the downtown area. It is also greener. A new waterfront project has been launched in the coastline of Yanbu Industrial City. The total area of this project is 12km. The project consists of four phases. The first phase is made of a campground equipped with the needed facilities. The second phase is made up of gardens, marina and a number of islands. The third phase has a recreation area, hotel and other facilities. The fourth phase has an aquarium.

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Events and Festivals

Milad al-Nabi

All Saudi Muslims celebrate the birthday of their Prophet, Mohammad, by elaborately decorating their homes and mosques. Children recite poems about the Prophet, while older Saudis tell stories about Mohammad’s life and accomplishments. Large feasts and street processions are among Milad al-Nabi’s other traditional activities. The date of Milad al-Nabi varies from year to year according to the Islamic calendar.

Unification of the Kingdom Day

The country’s only secular public holiday takes place each September 23 on the anniversary of Saudi Arabia’s 1932 founding. Although many Saudis still choose to quietly celebrate this formerly low-key holiday at home, growing numbers of young Saudis have chosen to express their national pride more overtly by singing, dancing, honking car horns, and waving Saudi flags.

Eid ul-Fitr

Like their Muslim counterparts in other nations, Saudis mark the final day of the fasting month of Ramadan with this three-day religious festival. Eid ul-Fitr begins with a small morning meal and quiet prayers, and continues with larger feasts and livelier celebrations among family and friends. Saudi children receive money and elaborately decorated gift bags from adults, several shopkeepers add free gifts to all purchases, and Saudi men secretly leave large bags of food on strangers’ doorsteps during this festive time of year.

Eid al-Adha

This important Muslim festival lasts four days and marks the moment when Ibrahim was willing to sacrifice Ismael, his son, for Allah. Today, most Saudi families celebrate Eid al-Adha by dressing up in their finest clothing, saying special prayers, and slaughtering lambs to share their meat with everyone.

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Weather

Yanbu has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh).

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Getting There

By Plane

Yanbu has an international airport (code YNB) that was upgraded in 2009. It only offers flights to Dammam, Jeddah, and Riyadh within Saudi Arabia. Internationally, it offers flights to Alexandria and Cairo in Egypt, Doha in Qatar, Istanbul in Turkey, and Dubai and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. All the international destinations are serviced by foreign airlines; domestic carriers Saudia and Flynas only serve the domestic destinations listed above.

By Car

A highway passes through Yanbu, linking Yanbu to Jeddah in the south, and to the northern parts of the kingdom as well as to neighboring countries like Syria, Jordan, etc., in the north.

By Boat

It is one of the oldest sea ports along the Red Sea. The port is connected to the holy cities, especially the one in Madinah. The port is connected to the holy cities, especially the one in Madinah. Moreover, it has an economic importance as it located in an economically vital area. It also receives pilgrims.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes abound in major Saudi cities, and many shopping malls feature a gaming parlor or two. Rates are around SR5/hour.

While Internet in Saudi Arabia is cordoned off by a filter, it aims primarily at pornography, non-Islamic religious and domestic political sites in Arabic, and (from the traveller's point of view) is nowhere near as strict as, say, China's. Google, Skype, Wikipedia, all major webmail providers etc. are all accessible.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The three mobile operators in Saudi, incumbent Al Jawal, Emirati rival Mobily and Kuwaiti newcomer Zain (Vodafone Network) are fiercely competitive, with good coverage (in populated areas) and good pricing. A starter pack with prepaid SIM and talktime starts from about SR 75, and you can sign up in most any larger mobile shop (bring your passport). Local calls are under SR 0.5/minute, while calls overseas are around or less than SR 2/min.

And yes, you can bring in your own phone: despite grumblings from the clerics, both camera phones and multimedia messaging (MMS) are now legal.

Post

Saudi Post has a good network of post offices around the country, but offices are closed Thursday and Friday. Stamps for postcards to anywhere in the world cost SR4. The bigger problem is actually finding postcards, as the mutawwa periodically crack down on the celebration of non-Islamic holidays like Valentine's Day, Christmas or even birthdays, causing all cards of any sort to disappear from bookstores! Your best bet is thus gift shops in major hotels. Mail coming in to the country from overseas is notoriously unreliable. Stories abound of things arriving months after they were sent or never arriving at all. There are branches of DHL, FedEx and UPS operating throughout the kingdom, so a good rule of thumb is to have anything important sent through those channels.

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This is version 3. Last edited at 14:39 on Oct 1, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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