Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia

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Eastern Province
Map of Saudi Arabia with the Eastern Province highlighted
Map of Saudi Arabia with the Eastern Province highlighted
Capital Dammam
Boroughs 11
 • Governor Prince Saud bin Nayef
 • Deputy Governor Prince Jiluwi bin Abdul Aziz bin Musaed[1]
 • Total 672,522 km2 (259,662 sq mi)
Population (2010)
 • Total 4,105,780
 • Density 6.1/km2 (16/sq mi)
ISO 3166-2 04

The Eastern Province (Arabic: الشرقية‎‎ ash-Sharqiyyah) is the largest province of Saudi Arabia. The province's capital is the city of Dammam, which hosts the majority of the region's population and its government. The current governor of the region is Prince Saud Bin Naif.

The Eastern Province is home to most of Saudi Arabia's oil production. The region is also home of the City of Jubail, which hosts the Jubail Industrial City, a global hub for chemical industries. It is also a tourist area because of its location on the coast of the Persian Gulf and the variety of entertainment activities available across the region. Most of the tourists who visit the region are from the other nearby Arab states of the Persian Gulf, and the Riyadh Region.


The Eastern Province borders the Persian Gulf, which contains the province's only maritime boundary (which is with Iran, located within the Persian Gulf) and borders 5 countries on land. Apart from this water border, the majority of the countries that the Eastern Province borders are on land, and those are: Iraq (partially), Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

The primary airport in the region is King Fahd International Airport, the largest airport in the world in terms of land area. The King Fahd Causeway, completed in 1986, links the Eastern Province to neighboring island country of Bahrain.

The largely uninhabited Rub' al Khali (Empty Quarter) desert occupies more than half of the province.



The Saudis of Najd gained control of the area after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The inhabited areas had been known as "Al-Ahsa" (Arabic: الأحساء‎‎) under Ottoman rule, and the entire region of Eastern Arabia was mostly known as "Bahrain" (Arabic: البحرين‎‎) from pre-Islamic times until 1521.

Shiite secession

In 2009 Nimr al-Nimr suggested the Eastern Province should secede if the Saudi government does not cease to oppress and discriminate against its Shiite majority. A Saudi oppositionist disclosed in 2013 that one of the reasons that Nimr was arrested was due to his advocacy of secession.[2]


Of the 4.1 million inhabitants, 1.2 million are foreigners, making up about 29%.[3] The area is also reported to have a Shia majority.[4]

Governors of the Eastern Province


Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil producing company of Saudi Arabia, is based in Dhahran, which is located in the Eastern Province, and most decisions on oil policy and production that affect the global economy are made there. The kingdom's main oil and gas fields are mostly located in the Eastern Province, onshore and offshore. Notable among these are the Ghawar oil field and the largest crude increment in the world. Petroleum from the fields is shipped to dozens of countries from the oil port of Ras Tanura and is also used as feedstock in numerous industrial plants in Jubail.

Saudi Arabia's second major product, dates, also forms a large part of Eastern Province's economy. Every year thousands of tonnes of dates are harvested from the date palms in the giant oases of Al-Ahsa.

Administrative divisions

List of cities

Major cities

  • Dammam: Capital of Eastern Province, the main seaport and the fifth largest city of Saudi Arabia (after Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca and Medina).
  • Al-Hasa: Largest oasis in the world. It should be noted that Al-Hasa is sometimes considered by the people of the province to be a province by itself, since it has its own annual budget and its own local government, unlike the other areas in the province. The local government is formally known as the Al-Ahsa Governorate, a division of the Government of the Eastern Province. In addition, Al-Hasa has a mayor who has a power of a governor, although not "officially" considered as a governor because the province's governor still can control the operation of Al-Hasa Governorate and its mayor's office. Nonetheless, the Eastern Province's governor is still considered the head of the province government in any local occasion that occurs in Al-Hasa.
  • Khobar: Major center for commerce, part of the Dammam Metropolitan Area.
  • Dhahran: Oil industry center, site of Saudi Aramco headquarters. Its home to a major base of Royal Saudi Air Force and the most prestigious Saudi university, KFUPM. Dhahran is part of the Dammam Metropolitan Area.
  • Qatif: Large oasis on the coast of the Persian Gulf
  • Jubail: Largest industrial city in the Middle East.
  • Abqaiq: Home for major and largest oil and gas processing plants
  • Ras Tanura: Major petroleum refining center, home for the largest oil refinery in the world, and many offshore oil platforms. Also main oil exporting seaport
  • Udhailiyah: Major oil producing and processing plants
  • Shayba in the Rub' al Khali (Empty Quarter), close to the border with the United Arab Emirates
  • Khafji: Main industrial city, very close to the border with Kuwait. Occupied by the Iraqi forces during the Gulf War. Saudi Forces aided by United States Marines victoriously engaged in the Battle of Khafji during Operation Desert Storm to free it from the Iraqis.
  • Hafar Al-Batin: The largest city in the North-East of Saudi Arabia, it is 90 km near Kuwait and it has more than 35 villages. King Khalid Military City is 60 km South to it.


  1. Wahab, Siraj (5 May 2012). "A story of courage, conviction and determination". Arab News. Retrieved 12 May 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/05/saudi-arabia-represses-shia-dissent.html#
  3. "Riyadh most populous Saudi city, Makkah most populous province". Arab News. Retrieved 2014-04-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr: Saudi Arabia executes top Shia cleric". BBC News. Retrieved 2 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

See also