Khobar (also spelled Al-Khobar or al-Khubar; Arabic: الخبر) is a city located in the Eastern Province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the coast of the Persian Gulf. It is one of the largest cities in the Gulf Cooperation Council, with a population of 941,358 as of 2012. Khobar, Dammam, and Dhahran are part of the Dammam metropolitan area, the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Saudi Arabia with an estimated population of over 4,100,000 as of 2012. All three urban centers are served by the King Fahd International Airport and King Abdul Aziz Port. Together, they are often known as "The Triplet Cities" by many natives and locals. Dammam, Dhahran and Al Khobar are less than 15 km (9.3 mi) apart and form one metropolitan area, the fifth largest in the kingdom and sixth in the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Many of Khobar's residents work for Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil company, Khobar also hosts many regional and international companies. Traditionally, Khobar has also been a city of shopkeepers and merchants, and the city today has many modern malls (such as Dhahran Mall) and boulevards with shops run by international franchises and restaurants.
Khobar today has many skyscrapers, with more under construction.
The first school in Khobar was established in 1942. Today, Khobar is home to more than 100 public and private educational institutes. The International Indian School, Dammam (CBSE) is one of the world's largest Indian schools, with more than 17000 students. Countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh also operate their own schools and curriculum. Khobar is also home to several Western-oriented schools such as the International Philippine Schools, British and American Schools, which serve a number of students from various expatriate communities. Examples include Dhahran Ahliya Schools, Manarat International schools, AlFaisaliah Islamic School, Al-Hussan International School Khobar (AHISK), Saad National School, Jubail Academy International School, KFUPM Schools, Pakistan International School, Al-Khobar,Gulf International English School, Khobar French School, International Programs School, British International School Al-Khobar (BISAK), International Schools Group (which has multiple schools across the country), Al-Andalus International School, and International Philippine School in Al Khobar.
Al-Magar was a prehistoric culture whose epicenter lay in modern-day southwestern Najd. Al-Magar is characterized as being one of the first civilizations in the world where widespread domestication of animals occurred, particularly the horse, during the Neolithic period. Aside from horses animals such as sheep, goats, dogs, in particular of the Saluki breed, ostriches, falcons and fish were discovered in the form of stone statues and rock engravings. Radiocarbon dating of these and other objects discovered indicate an age of about 9,000 years. The various discoveries reflect the significance of the site as an important ancient civilization and gives it significant pre-historic importance with enough proof and detailed data for re-writing the Neolithic history of the Arabian Peninsula and Saudi Arabia in particular. Al-Magar also reveals additional information about the relationship between human economic activities and inherent climate change, how hunter-gatherer societies became sedentary, how they made use of natural resources available to them, and how they set into motion the domestication of plants and animals.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Ottoman Empire continued to control or have a suzerainty over most of the peninsula. Subject to this suzerainty, Arabia was ruled by a patchwork of tribal rulers,  with the Sharif of Mecca having pre-eminence and ruling the Hejaz. In 1902, Abdul Rahman's son, Abdul Aziz—later to be known as Ibn Saud—recaptured control of Riyadh bringing the Al Saud back to Nejd. Ibn Saud gained the support of the Ikhwan, a tribal army inspired by Wahhabism and led by Faisal Al-Dawish, and which had grown quickly after its foundation in 1912. With the aid of the Ikhwan, Ibn Saud captured Al-Ahsa from the Ottomans in 1913.
In 1916, with the encouragement and support of Britain (which was fighting the Ottomans in World War I), the Sharif of Mecca, Hussein bin Ali, led a pan-Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire to create a united Arab state. Although the Arab Revolt of 1916 to 1918 failed in its objective, the Allied victory in World War I resulted in the end of Ottoman suzerainty and control in Arabia.
Ibn Saud avoided involvement in the Arab Revolt, and instead continued his struggle with the Al Rashid. Following the latter's final defeat, he took the title Sultan of Nejd in 1921. With the help of the Ikhwan, the Hejaz was conquered in 1924–25 and on 10 January 1926, Ibn Saud declared himself King of the Hejaz. A year later, he added the title of King of Nejd. For the next five years, he administered the two parts of his dual kingdom as separate units.
Saudi Arabia is almost unique in giving the ulema (the body of Islamic religious leaders and jurists) a direct role in government. The preferred ulema are of the Salafi persuasion. The ulema have also been a key influence in major government decisions, for example the imposition of the oil embargo in 1973 and the invitation to foreign troops to Saudi Arabia in 1990. In addition, they have had a major role in the judicial and education systems and a monopoly of authority in the sphere of religious and social morals.
By the 1970s, as a result of oil wealth and the modernization of the country initiated by King Faisal, important changes to Saudi society were under way and the power of the ulema was in decline. However, this changed following the seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979 by Islamist radicals. The government's response to the crisis included strengthening the ulema's powers and increasing their financial support: in particular, they were given greater control over the education system and allowed to enforce stricter observance of Wahhabi rules of moral and social behaviour. After his accession to the throne in 2005, King Abdullah took steps to reduce the powers of the ulema, for instance transferring control over girls' education to the Ministry of Education.
The ulema have historically been led by the Al ash-Sheikh, the country's leading religious family. The Al ash-Sheikh are the descendants of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, the 18th-century founder of the Wahhabi form of Sunni Islam which is today dominant in Saudi Arabia. The family is second in prestige only to the Al Saud (the royal family) with whom they formed a "mutual support pact" and power-sharing arrangement nearly 300 years ago. The pact, which persists to this day, is based on the Al Saud maintaining the Al ash-Sheikh's authority in religious matters and upholding and propagating Wahhabi doctrine. In return, the Al ash-Sheikh support the Al Saud's political authority thereby using its religious-moral authority to legitimize the royal family's rule. Although the Al ash-Sheikh's domination of the ulema has diminished in recent decades, they still hold the most important religious posts and are closely linked to the Al Saud by a high degree of intermarriage.
Statistics on poverty in the kingdom are not available through the UN resources because the Saudi government does not issue any. The Saudi state discourages calling attention to or complaining about poverty. In December 2011, the Saudi interior ministry arrested three reporters and held them for almost two weeks for questioning after they uploaded a video on the topic to YouTube. Authors of the video claim that 22% of Saudis may be considered poor (2009). Observers researching the issue prefer to stay anonymous because of the risk of being arrested.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is expected to sign a deal with some of the biggest global lenders for a loan of $11 billion in 2018. Source close to Bloomberg claimed the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia will receive additional cash after two years of major new investments. The Saudi government had arranged a similar loan of $16 billion in March 2018. According to data from Fitch Ratings, over two years starting from May 2016 Saudi Arabia went from having zero debt to raising $68 billion in dollar-denominated bonds and syndicated loans—one of the fastest rates among emerging economies.
Each year, about a quarter-million young Saudis enter the job market. With the first phase of Saudization into effect, 70% of sales job are expected to be filled by Saudis. However, the private sector still remains hugely dominated by foreigners. The rate of local unemployment is at its peak in more than a decade, with 12.9% drop in employment. According to a report published by Bloomberg Economics in 2018, the government needs to produce 700,000 jobs by 2020 to meet its unemployment rate.
Saudi Arabia: Al'Khubar