Located in the Hijaz region, Yanbu traditionally served the city of Medina. Originally Yanbu was divided into the port itself, Yanbu al-Bahr, and the inland agricultural settlement of Yanbu al-Nakhl. In the 1970s, along with al-Jubayl on the Persian Gulf, Yanbu became the center of a massive industrial development scheme that included oil refining, petrochemical industries, and heavy manufacturing complexes based on hydrocarbon fuels. Yanbu was planned as the smaller of the two sites, with two petroleum refineries, a natural gas processing plant, a petrochemical complex, other light industries, an industrial port, and a new city of 100,000 inhabitants. Energy for these projects was to be supplied via oil and gas pipelines from the Eastern Province, and the terminus of the Iraqi pipeline across Saudi Arabia was located nearby; the Iraqi pipeline was closed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, but the capacity of the Saudi east-west pipeline was later increased to nearly five million barrels per day. By 1999 Yanbu's population was about 70,000.
Farsy, Fouad al-. Modernity and Tradition: The Saudi Equation. London: Kegan Paul International, 1991.
j. e. peterson