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The Oil Industrial Heritage in Saudi Arabia

Date of Submission: 23/01/2023
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(v)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Eastern Province; Makkah
Ref.: 6639

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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party



Well N° 7, Dammam


50° 7'38.26"E


Trans Arab Pipeline (Tapline)




Jeddah Refinery




King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM)


50° 8'35.90"E


Dhahran Camp


50° 7'44.07"E

Industrialisation is a key theme of social and economic history in the last three centuries, yet industrial heritage related to the oil sector is still little understood at the global scale and is not represented in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Major places of oil industry are still under technical exploitation and business commitment.

The ongoing transformation of Saudi Arabia’s economy, from exclusively oil-dependent to a more diversified and multiple one, paves now the way for the protection of oil-related industrial sites as industrial “vestiges”, as has already taken place for coal-based and for hydro-powered industries in other parts of the World.

Saudi Arabia is recognized worldwide as a key player in the oil industry. The development of a modern Kingdom from inhospitable deserts in the span of a single generation — made possible by the discovery and exploitation of oil and gas — is a significant event in the history of the 20th century. This industrial revolution, and its global impact in shaping the economy of the contemporary world, were made possible by the development of industrial infrastructures (wells, refineries, pipelines, sea terminals, etc.) that constitute major achievements of human creativity and engineering. These sites are among the largest and most recognisable industrial complexes built during the 20th century, reaching an unrivalled scale and level of technological sophistication in the second half of the 20th century. They are now often undergoing profound transformations as more efficient and renewable forms of energy production are developed in the 21st century.

Oil and gas provide over 60% of the world’s primary energy needs but burning the products of the petroleum industry has also substantially increased the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. UNESCO’s Climate Change and World Heritage Report underlines the growing impact of climate change on heritage conservation. The petroleum industry has had, and continues to have, a strong impact on the global environment; reducing emissions to address climate change, while meeting the world’s energy needs, is among the biggest challenges of the 21st century. Since the 1970s, ARAMCO, the Saudi public petroleum and natural gas company, has acted to mitigate the environmental impacts of flaring associated gas by utilizing gas for power generation and petrochemicals production. The Company is a signatory to the World Bank’s “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030” initiative and ARAMCO is the oil producer with the lowest intensity of GHG emissions per barrel produced. In the past decade, ARAMCO has engaged in a range of projects to reduce pollution reflecting its continuous effort to respond to contemporary environmental challenges through adaptation and innovation.

Most Saudi modern industrial sites are connected to the oil industry. These industrial complexes had a profound impact on the Saudi landscape and had a transformational effect on Saudi economy and society. They do form a specific and relevant element of the national history and heritage.

Saudi Arabian oilfields were exploited intensively already in the first half of the 20th century. The relatively long history of exploitation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is told by the elements composing The Oil Industrial Heritage in Saudi Arabia serial property. Oil heritage witnesses the complex dynamics between producing and consuming countries, between Saudi Arabia and the rest of world. Its industrial legacy not only relates to wells and refineries, but also to pipelines, sea terminals and the ensemble of intellectual, human, and technical exchanges between East and West, South and North that permitted the global distribution of this resource throughout the world. Its discovery and exploitation in Saudi Arabia are deeply intertwined with the history of the Kingdom and its global status, but also with world history and development in the 20th century.

As proven by this serial site, oil discovery and exploitation in the Kingdom combined progress in engineering and architecture with development in educational, medical, and social issues. Saudi oil heritage sites, as well as the buildings, settlements and landscapes associated with them, including educational institutions, are an integral part of the global petroleum industry production chain that produces, refines, stores, and distributes the various petroleum products. The sites included in The Oil Industrial Heritage in Saudi Arabia serial property form a coherent ensemble bringing together the often dispersed and disconnected components of the process chain and linking the three sectors of production (upstream, midstream, and downstream) to make the overall industry and its economic, social and heritage values more easily comprehensible.

The Oil Industrial Heritage in Saudi Arabia serial property consists of five elements. Among them: two upstream sites (Well N° 7, Trans Arab Pipeline associated settlements), one midstream sector element (the Tapline itself), and one downstream sector site (Jeddah Refinery). However, this standard classification of the industry does not fully represent the richness and multiplicity of this industrial heritage in the Kingdom. Therefore, the serial property also includes an important modern architectural structure in Dhahran: the campus of the KFUPM, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (1979), which played a pivotal role in the modernisation and development of Saudi Arabia, favouring the exchange of knowledge and technologies necessary for the development of the Saudi industry.

Well N° 7

On April 30th, 1935, drilling started in Dammam. During the first week of March 1938, at a depth of 1,440 meters, Dammam Well No. 7 started producing commercial quantities of oil, reaching more than 3,810 barrels/day by the end of the month. Commonly referred to as the “lucky well”, Well No. 7 launched Saudi Arabia’s Petroleum history. Standing on Jabal Dhahran, it was active until 1982 when it was taken out of production for operational reasons after 45 years of continuous extraction in which it poured out more than 32 million barrels of oil. Well No. 7's second wellhead, which had been in use from 1952 until 1978, was refurbished and mounted on a pedestal at EXPEC's entranceway becoming the symbol of the Saudi industrial history and of ARAMCO’s enterprise.

Trans-Arabian Pipeline (Tapline)

Construction of the Trans-Arabian Pipeline, connecting Arabia with the Mediterranean, began in 1947 and was mainly managed by the American company Bechtel. The “Tapline”, the longest oil pipeline in the world when it was put into operation (total length 1,213 km), connected the Gulf oilfields with the Mediterranean port of Sidon, Lebanon and crossed through Jordan and Syria. The section of the line beyond Jordan ceased operation in 1976. The remainder of the line between Saudi Arabia and Jordan continued to transport modest amounts of petroleum until 1990 when the pipeline operations were shutdown. Its construction was accompanied by the establishment of several new settlements, built around the four pumping stations along its route. They housed both expatriate and Saudi employees and included houses, hospitals, schools, repair shops, recreation facilities and airstrips, and a market to supply the surrounding districts. The Tapline is the first officially registered industrial heritage site in the Kingdom, underlining the key role of this industrial heritage site in Saudi national history.

Jeddah Refinery

Jeddah Refinery covers approximately 180 ha in the southern part of the city and consists of three main parts: refining facilities, tanks, and lubricants zone. The northernmost tank area hosts some 50 different elements of various typologies and sizes. In addition, the site includes administration buildings and laboratories, a power generation area, and a pumping station.

The site of Jeddah Refinery has witnessed a continuous development since 1952, when ARAMCO opted for the construction of a new terminal and an associated bulk plant in the Western part of the Kingdom. At first just a large storage area, Jeddah’s refinery became a key part of a complex network of oil exploration, drilling, production, shipping and marketing that ARAMCO established on a global base, and that involved the Kingdom and the whole planet.

Built by the Japanese Chiyoda Corporation in 1967, the plant had its own power generators (the first of this type) and was completely self-sufficient in steam, water, and electricity production, in addition to the oily-water recovery system. In 1976, the refinery gained the capacity to convert low valuable products into higher value products, with higher production of gasoline. It further expanded in 1976 and 1978 approaching a maximum capacity of 100 million barrels/day. Starting from 1985, the refinery began downsizing to comply with the evolution of the sector and the creation of a new industrial zone and new terminal in Yanbu. The site is now being progressively decommissioned and will be partially converted into an industrial park.

King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM)

The College of Petroleum and Minerals was established on 23rd September 1963 by a Saudi royal decree as the first institution in Saudi Arabia to provide high-level education on petroleum and minerals. Elevated to university status in 1975, it expanded its scope to offer a wide-range spectrum of science, engineering, technology, and business / management courses.

The campus buildings, built in 1979 by the American firm Caudill, Rowlett and Scott (succeeded by HOC), are grouped in the centre of the site, on top of a hill, alluding to an oasis. Buildings are never parallel to each other, all spaces have a non-rigid, organic quality, and their shapes and masses are simple and dignified to provide continuity and unity. These aspects, together with its elevated position, produce an impressive image from all sides, making it a focal feature for the whole Dammam Metropolitan area.

The buildings were arranged and designed to turn their backs to the desert winds, and to surround a protected inner zone developed as a garden with a reflecting pool. Their exposed reinforced concrete façades, sandblasted to show the aggregates, perfectly blends with the natural surroundings. The College of Petroleum and Minerals features long colonnades of pointed-arch supports, soft patterns of domed roofs and a lean water tower suggestive of a minaret, and contributes to a theme that is severely modern, recognizably Arab, and closely attuned to its stark desert setting.

Dhahran Camp

The remote locations of oilfields, production facilities and pipelines developed in the 20th century obliged both private and national companies to construct temporary work camps and later stable company towns to house the workforce and their families.

The Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) planned and built a model town based on American planning principles and patterns next to Dhahran oilfield. Dhahran Camp hosted hundreds of bungalows, each set in their own front and back yards, for the American employees and their families, and it was equipped with the modern facilities found in American towns including a cinema, clubhouse, common dining hall and other recreational facilities. Several of the major buildings have been preserved by ARAMCO, and the common dining room, the Steineke house, and the library are still used by the company’s employees.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Coal and petroleum are the two major sources of energy that permitted the industrial development of the World in the 19th and 20th centuries respectively. The progressive passage from coal to oil in the 20th century led to a profound global transformation of industrial processes and development models. Since a very early phase, oil has been a “global” commodity: pipelines and large sea carriers brought it from producing countries, like Saudi Arabia, to the rest of the world, contributing to create our contemporary interconnected modern world. The oil industry heritage, therefore, possesses an intrinsically international and global relevance making it worthy of inclusion on the World Heritage List.

The pioneering efforts in exploration, processing and distribution of this resource made from the 1930s to the 1960s produced a series of tangible assets like wells, refineries, airstrips, pipelines, and berths through which it is possible to retrace some of the main themes that marked the global history of the 20th century.

The Oil Industrial Heritage in Saudi Arabia property is an outstanding example of a large-scale technological ensemble, planned by American and an international team of engineers and built by local and expat workers from around the world, aiming to extract, process and transport oil and gas. The discovery and exploitation of oil in Saudi Arabia shaped the Kingdom’s development since its creation in 1932, but has had an enormous impact, continuing until the present, on the entire world economy. Saudi Arabia is the best-known and largest source of oil in the world, and the wealth produced by this global industry is reflected in the development of the Kingdom in the past century.

The industrial sites, infrastructural elements and architectural sites included in the serial property The Oil Industrial Heritage in Saudi Arabia bear testimony to the dramatic impact of this economic activity on the landscape and on Saudi society and constitute a heritage of potential Outstanding Universal Value. The structures built in Saudi Arabia, with their technological developments, are industrial and technological sites of an unprecedented scale and of universal significance that permitted to extract, transform, and transport oil in extreme climatic and natural conditions. They are the result of a unique mix of Western engineering skills, of local managerial capacities and of traditional social and cultural elements that, combined, favoured the global industrialization of the world in the second half of the 20th century.

The architectural testimony comprises residential and educational structures facilities that are tangible manifestations of the social, economic, and institutional roles associated with the oil industry. Most of these structures continue to be relevant for the Kingdom economy and bear witness to distinctive building traditions that the industry fostered. They evoke memories of this industry, of its supporting social and economic structures, and of the cultural identity it produced. The knowledge base that generated at KFUPM, as a place of research, training, and transmission of skills to the next generation of Saudi engineers, influenced the technology of oil infrastructures in Saudi Arabia and globally.

Criterion (ii): Since its development, the oil industry has been driven by the search for oil and its production all over the globe. Few industrial activities have had such an influence, directly or indirectly, on 20th century human values. The flow of petroleum products is an expressive metaphor of “globalisation”, with the concomitant sharing and transfer of ideas and knowledge about technology, engineering, architecture, and planning. The wealth resulting from oil and gas reserves completely changed the direction of Saudi Arabian development, replacing traditional lifestyles, settlement patterns and economies. Petroleum industry has stimulated the exchange of technology, of cultural forms and social behaviours, and radically influenced local economy and society, and these developments are reflected in the Saudi built environment.

Criterion (iv): Oil industry products have played a central and defining role in the past century of human history. The Oil Industrial Heritage in Saudi Arabia serial property includes the most representative typologies of buildings or ensembles from this industry that has so profoundly influenced the 20th century: an early drilling site, an influential and strategically important pipeline, a large-scale refinery, elements of a model company town, and an educational institution associated with the development of petroleum production.

Criterion (v): Temporary settlements associated with the early exploration for oil are characteristic of the first decades of this industry and can still be identified along the Tapline, one of the elements of the serial property, jointly with original airstrips and road infrastructure. Planned settlements for international staff and their families close to areas of production characterise the activity of ARAMCO, which provided housing, and educational facilities to sustain production teams in Saudi Arabia. Dhahran’s preserved urban facilities (restaurant, clubs, and housing units) are indicative of the prevalent social arrangements, and of the transfer of ideas of spatial planning between different societies, that characterised the discovery and exploitation of oil in Saudi Arabia since the 1930s until the present.

Multiple attributes materialize these three criteria in the elements of this series that does not simply approach “industrial heritage” from a purely “engineering” perspective, but that aims at underlining the universal significance of Saudi Arabia oil heritage as a key element of a phase of human history and evolution.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity


The serial property The Oil Industrial Heritage in Saudi Arabia adopts a comprehensive approach to the presentation and preservation of industrial heritage aiming to integrate within a single serial property the ensemble of the technological and human elements that materialize this activity. Saudi Arabia likely represents the most developed and important example of oil-based economy in the world throughout the 20th century. The property aims at capturing the scale of its impact in the country on the one side, and its global relevance for the development of the world economy and industry on the other.

In general terms, authenticity in industrial sites, is not always easy to determine for places which have been adapted to new technologies and different uses during their working lives. Yet, the different elements of the series show a high level of authenticity both in their physical vestiges and at the functional level: the University, and Dhahran Camp are still active, Jeddah Refinery has continuously evolved, but still preserves traces of its different constructive phases, the Tapline — the first nationally-listed industrial heritage — has preserved, over its long path across the Saudi desert, all its components with a high degree of authenticity. On the other side, the original pump of Well No. 7 has obtained a new symbolic value embodying the entire narrative of the oil discovery and exploitation in the Kingdom, acquiring a new “authentic” status beyond its material/technical dimension.

Industrial heritage main “value” is to witness social, cultural, and economic changes generated by the introduction of new production processes that changed and continue to change humanity’s forms of living and working. The Oil Industrial Heritage in Saudi Arabia property’s ambition it to express this essential value through the multiple attributes of the different elements of the series. The most relevant attributes are: Modern architecture and pioneering Arab aesthetic (Dhahran University); Urban settlements (Dhahran Camp, Tapline settlements); Upstream petroleum extraction and transformation techniques (Well No.7, Jeddah Refinery); Transfer infrastructures (Tapline); Cultural exchanges and transfer of knowledge (Petroleum University, Dhahran Camp).


The series include elements from the three main sectors of the oil industry, up-stream, mid-stream, and down-stream, to ensure the complete representation of the features and processes conveying the significance and relevance of oil heritage. Each element of the series includes the attributes expressing their potential OUV.

The integrity of the Petroleum University is very high: no alteration affected its original design and features and its relationship to the surrounding environment has not been modified since its conception. The physical integrity of the industrial facilities and infrastructures of the series is overall satisfactory. Notably, the Jeddah Refinery has preserved vestiges of its successive development phases.

Comparison with other similar properties

Oil extraction and processing is a key feature of 20th century industrial development but, differently from coal mining and processing that sustained industrial development in the 19th century, it remains little acknowledged for its heritage relevance. In 2021, there are still no World Heritage properties related to the petroleum industry. The Oil Industrial Heritage in Saudi Arabia, therefore, cannot be directly compared with other internationally recognised heritage sites on the World Heritage List.

Furthermore, the Arab Region does not boast any World Heritage Industrial Heritage or Modern Architectural sites, and surprisingly also the Tentative lists from the region make little reference to oil and industrial heritage, with the notable exception of Awali Oil Settlement (Bahrain, 2019), where the focus, however, is on town planning principles and social impacts more than on Industrial heritage.

At the global scale, there are few Tentative Listed sites that refer to oil. Namely:

La Brea Pitch Lake (Trinidad & Tobago, TL 2011): Proposed as a Natural Site, it is a lake formed by natural petroleum rising to the surface where it collects in a volcanic crater. In 1595, the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh used the substance for caulking his ships and took several barrels back home. Mining of the lake started in 1867. Since, an estimated 10 million tons of asphalt has been extracted from the lake.

Awali Oil Settlement (Bahrain, TL 2019): The earliest modern oil settlement in the Arabian Gulf provided a gated residence and working environment for a new international community of specialists and technocrats, who were in key positions to establish and run the new industry. Constructed since 1934 by the Bahrain Petroleum Company (Bapco), the settlement combines living quarters and multiple public structures and leisure amenities: church, hospital, post office, school, supermarket, public library, swimming pool, tennis courts, gathering Hall and Club with pub and restaurant, community gardens. Its urban layout, inspired by the European garden city movement, broke completely with the established local oasis or desert settlement traditions.

Beyond the Tentative Listed sites, comparisons can be drawn with other oil heritage sites across the globe:

Yates Oil Field, Texas (United States of America): The Yates Oil Field — one of the largest oil fields in the United States covering a surface of over 26,000 acres — produced almost 1.5 billion barrels of oil since its discovery in 1926. Modern horizontal drilling techniques have extended the productive life of this oilfield located in the Permian Basin. The close relationship of the Permian Basin with the American oil industry has made it a relevant heritage site; multiple museums, including the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum but also open-air museums initiated by private individuals, present American oil heritage and its identity-making role.

Standard Oil Building, New York (United States of America): In 1870 D. Rockefeller and his associates founded the Standard Oil Company, which soon monopolized the American oil industry. In 1885, the Standard Oil Company office was relocated from the refinery town of Cleveland, in Ohio to the symbolic business centre of lower Manhattan. An iconic building was designed to host the headquarters on Broadway (it was enlarged in 1895). The building is notable for its distinctive tower, one of the southernmost spires in the Manhattan skyline, and the sweeping curve of the Broadway facade. The powerful sculptural massing and arresting silhouette of the enlarged Standard Oil Building represented the new set-back skyscraper forms that emerged during the early 1920s. The Standard Oil building is the clearest tangible manifestation of the rapid growth of the petroleum industry in the United States to its position of global dominance and of the role of Rockefeller’s company in this ascent.

Oil Springs, Ontario (Canada): The site of North America's first commercial well and the home to the Oil Museum of Canada, Oil Springs became a bustling town with four thousand residents after the discovery of oil in 1858. In 1881, more oil was discovered at a deeper level, resulting in another boom for the town. Two pipelines were built to Petrolia, and in 1886, a spur line of the Canada Southern Railway connected the village to Oil City (operating until 1960). Oil Springs has continually produced petroleum for commercial use for more than 160 years and annually pumps 24,000 barrels of in a landscape of grasslands, woods, wetlands, and farmed fields. The combined sites of the Oil Museum of Canada and Fairbank Oil were designated a National Historic Site in 1925, and in 2010 the Oil Heritage Conservation District was established under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Petroleum Museum Wietze (Germany): Wietze is the birthplace of the German petroleum industry. After the beginning of the oil boom around 1899, the appearance, size and social structure of the village changed radically: dozens of derricks, a railway station, a refinery, an oil port, pipelines and several oil tanks, operation buildings and lodgings were erected. After the end of the production era the Petroleum Museum Wietze was established in 1970.

Abadan Company Town (Iran): Located in in south-western Iran, the small island of Abadan is the earliest example of a modern oil camp settlement in the Gulf. Centred on what was once the world’s largest refinery, it also includes a large petrochemical plant and settlements for company employees of differing skills, ethnicities, cultures, and origins. From the early 1930s, a company town with clear planning principles developed, and professionally laid out residential estates were planned by the British architect James Morrison Wilson. Abadan is the progenitor of the oil settlements the Gulf region, as well as in Latin America, Asia, and Australia.

Yumen Province Oilfield (China): Yumen Oil Province, known as the cradle of China's petroleum industry, is the first petroleum base in China and was put into operation as early as 1939. Laojunmiao oilfield, the earliest oilfield discovered in China, lies in Jiuquan Basin in Gansu Province. In 1954, pilot waterflood was conducted in this site, marking an important milestone in China's oilfield development history, and providing valuable experience for the long-term high and stable production of giant oilfields discovered subsequently, such as Daqing. The site is now protected as national heritage and hosts a small museum.

The Oil Industrial Heritage in Saudi Arabia stands out as the only comprehensive property addressing the ensemble of the industry components — at an extraordinary large scale — offering a far wider overview of the technical, cultural, social, and economic impact of this industry than any of the sites listed above.

When comparing the Oil Industrial Heritage in Saudi Arabia with other World Heritage sites, it is also relevant to refer to the 19th and 20th centuries coal mining industrial sites. Many properties represent the heritage of the coal industry. Among them the most relevant are:

Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen (Germany, 2001, criteria ii, iii): It consists of the complete infrastructure of a historical coal-mining site: the pits, coking plants, railway lines, pit heaps, miner’s housing and consumer and welfare facilities. It also boasts some 20th century Modern Movement buildings of outstanding architectural merit. The property provides remarkable material evidence of the evolution and decline of this essential industry over the past 150 years.

Major Mining Sites of Wallonia (Belgium, 2012, criteria ii, iv): The four sites of the serial property form a long strip, crossing Belgium from east to west, containing the best-preserved 19th and 20th century coal mining sites of the country. It features early examples of the utopian architecture from the beginning of the industrial era in Europe within a highly integrated industrial and urban ensemble. The four elements of the series include technical and industrial remains, relating to both the surface and the underground coal mining industry, the industrial architecture associated with the mines, worker housing, mining town urban planning and the social and human values associated with their history, in particular the memory of the 1956 Bois du Cazier disaster.

Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin (France, 2012, criteria ii, iv, vi): The site consists of 109 separate components over 120,000 ha forming a remarkable landscape shaped by coal extraction from the 1700s to the 1900s. It features mining pits (the oldest of which dates from 1850) and lift infrastructure, slag heaps (some of which exceed 140 m in height), coal transport infrastructure, railway stations, workers’ estates and mining villages including social habitat, schools, religious buildings, health and community facilities, company premises, owners and managers’ houses, town halls and more. The site bears testimony to the quest to create model workers’ cities from the mid 19th century to the 1960s and further illustrates a significant period in the history of industrial Europe. It documents the living conditions of workers and the solidarity to which it gave rise.

In the recent years, coal industrial heritage sites from other regions of the world have also been included in the WH list to underline the global relevance of energy resources and the complexity of world industrial, economical, and geopolitical development in the late 19th and early 20th century. A relevant comparison can be drawn with:

Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage of Sawahlunto (Indonesia, 2019, criteria ii, iv): A serial property of 12 elements that together tell the story of coal in Sumatra Island, it underlines the relevance of human exchanges and the interplay of coal mining and global/international economy. Built for the extraction, processing, and transport of high-quality coal in an inaccessible region, this industrial site was developed by the Netherlands East Indies’ government in the globally important period of industrialisation from the late 19th to the beginning of the 20th century. The workforce was recruited from the local Minangkabau people and supplemented by Javanese and Chinese contract workers, and convict labourers from Dutch-controlled areas. It comprises the mining site and company town, coal storage facilities, a port, and the railway network linking the mines to the coastal facilities. It is an outstanding testimony of exchange and fusion between local knowledge and practices and European technology.

The comparison with coal-related World Heritage sites underlines both the continuity and the similarities between coal and oil heritage, and the specificities of oil production and exploitation. The Oil Industrial Heritage in Saudi Arabia addresses this heritage in a comprehensive manner that closely relates to the principles that led to the inscription of multiple coal-related properties on the WH List.

Finally, another thread of comparison can be considered looking at regionally relevant nominations relative to specific “industrial” sectors, like:

Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy (Bahrain, 2012, criterion iii): This site focuses on pearls, a specific local commodity that had a global relevance. The serial property presents seven elements representing a now disappeared 19th - 20th century economic and social system.

The economic significance of pearling for the development of Bahrain exemplified by this serial property evokes, though at a different scale and in a different historic period, the pervasive influence of oil discovery and exploitation on Saudi economy and development, offering some interesting comparative insights. Both the oil and the pearling industries generated an economic and social transformation intrinsically related to a productive economy.