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Ras Al Khafji
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Ras Al Khafji
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Ras Al Khafji (Arabic: رأس الخفجي Raʾs al-Ḫafğī) or Khafji (الخفجي) is a town on the border between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It lies in what was before 1970 the Saudi–Kuwaiti neutral zone. The Japanese-owned Arabian Oil Company Ltd signed a concession agreement with the government of Saudi Arabia in December 1957 and with the government of Kuwait in July 1958 for exploration and development of hydrocarbon reserves in the offshore Neutral Zone. The Arabian Oil Company discovered the Kafji oil field in 1960 and the Hout oil field in 1963.
It was only after the discovery of these oil deposits off-shore of Khafji that a permanent demarcation of the neutral zone between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia was established, with Khafji formally located within Kuwait. However, the agreement concluded that both states would still maintain joint rights to all natural resources within the designated neutral zone. With the termination of the Arabian Oil Company lease to explore and extract within the area, operations within the Khafji Fields reverted to a joint venture between shareholder companies representing both states, with production being split on a 50:50 agreement between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Khafji’s notoriety, however, is primarily owed to the Battle of Khafji, which took place in and around the town in 1991 and marked the high tide of Iraq’s advance through Kuwait and into Saudi Arabia.
Al-Khafji largely came into existence following the 1960 discovery of the Al-Khafji oil field. Following the start of commercial oil production, the Arabian Oil Company established a residential compound that was composed of 73 residential quarters, built on a total area of 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m2), and possessing drainage, electricity, piped water, cable telephones and a road network. The expansion of oil exploration and drilling in the region led the city to gradually expand, generally keeping pace with a trend witnessed throughout the Kingdom.
Khafji is located in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Region along the Persian Gulf. The city is situated at latitude 28-26 N, longitude 48-30 E. It is 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) south of the Saudi-Kuwaiti border, 130 kilometres (81 mi) south of Kuwait City and 300 kilometres (190 mi) north of Dammam.
Khafji has an arid climate, with a total average annual rainfall of 105 millimetres (4.1 in). The quantity of annual rainfall substantially varies from one year to another, with some years witnessing over 200 millimetres (7.9 in) of precipitation while others see only a few millimetres (fractions of an inch). The average springtime temperature is in the range of 12 °C (54 °F), with relative humidity of about 50%. In the summertime the temperature averages around 50 °C (122 °F), with relative humidity of about 50%. Autumn sees average temperatures around 29 °C (84 °F), with relative humidity of about 50%.
On January 29, 1991 the Iraqi army invaded Khafji following the invasion and subsequent occupation of Kuwait. Saudi, Qatari and Coalition forces compelled the Iraqi army to withdraw from the city on the January 31, 1991 as a consequence of the Battle of Khafji.
In 1995, city officials declared the city safe and mine-free.
The Saudi government, in conjunction with Khafji Joint Operations, is promoting large-scale development projects in Khafji with the goal of transforming it into one of the major cities in the country. According to the Saudi government, Khafji is to be the headquarters of a new natural gas company. A separate government project in Khafji is to promote the city as an international tourist destination. The project would publicize and promote Khafji's beaches on the Persian Gulf during the summer and the temperate weather and desert camping in the winter.
The population of Khafji is roughly 65,000 (2005). A significant proportion of the population is composed of oil company employees and their families, and thus a large proportion of residents came to Khafji from different cities in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait after 1960.
The city lacks institutions offering post secondary education for men. Khafji is home to the Girls Education College, a female-only college. In January 2009, Muhammed Al-Umair, Director of Colleges in the Eastern Province opened an investigation into the Girls Education College following reports of piles of garbage lying about the college going uncollected for weeks and alleged late-night break ins by Asian workers exploiting the absence of security guards and staff. Students portrayed toilets at the school as unusable, and the environment at the school was portrayed as lax to the point of being detrimental to scholastic endeavors. The Girls Education College receives a portion of its funding from Chevron.
Until 1969, Khafji was served by a single hospital, the Company Hospital. In 1969, the Minstery of Health funded the construction of an additional two clinics. In 1996, Al Khafji Joint Operations Hospital (KJO Hospital) opened, and has since been expanded. Previously, KJO Hospital used to provide healthcare for 7,000 inpatient and 80,000 outpatient visits per year. Currently Khafji General Hospital- since started by the end of 2005- became the main health institute in Khafji Governorate since it provides the health care for all citizens and illegible residents in all speciality areas -regarding the rapidly growing population- and rapidely expanding every day replacing the historical role of KJO hospital. Several private hospitals And private polyclinics have also been established in Khafji to keep up with the needs of citizens and residents in the city, as well as the citizens of neighboring Kuwait, like Kingdom of medicine, Almanar complex and was most recently the launch of Alrahmah Medical Complex in 2010.
There is a small airfield in the city owned by Saudi Aramco that is not open for public use or commercial service. The nearest domestic airport offering commercial flights is King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, and Kuwait International Airport is the closest commercial airport to the city.
Many residents of Khafji travel to Kuwait or, to a lesser extent, to Dammam to shop. Both cities offer a greater variety of products and large and well-established markets in contrast to the young but growing retail options in Khafji.