Jubail was a small fishing village until the mid-1970 at which time it became one of the Kingdom's two newly-created industrial cities.

In 1986, a group on a desert picnic, while attempting to dig their vehicle out of the sand near Jubail, found the ruins of a church. The Jubail Church is believed to have been built prior to 400 A.D. The church was likely connected to one of the five Nestorian Bishoprics which are known to have existed in this area of the Persian Gulf in the 4th century. It was previously known as Al-Bunain.

This massive industrial complex on the Persian Gulf, along with Yanbu, its twin on the Red Sea, stands as a symbol of the government's vision of Saudi Arabia's future development. The Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu was established to plan and administer all installations in these two "cities." An ancient center of the Eastern Province and a caravan junction, the city of Jubail was famed for pearling. Located near the oil producing area, it was found suitable as the site of the world's largest petrochemical complex. Jubail industrial city has been divided into five zones:

1.The Industrial Zone has nineteen main factories with 136 ancillary installations, and produces steel, aluminum, plastic and fertilizers under the supervision of the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC). This zone covers an area of 8,000 hectares, or approximately eighty kilometers. In catering to diverse needs, SABIC leases fully developed and fully equipped industrial sites at nominal rents.

2.The Residential Area is composed of eight localities built on an adjacent island linked to the mainland. There are 40,000 inhabitants. The area has the capacity to accommodate 375,000 people in modern up-to-date houses.

3.The Airport Area, covering an area of 250 kilometers, has the capacity to receive all types of aircraft and handles the transportation of passengers and freight.

4.The Picnic Zone, situated to the West of the industrial zone, covers an area of 204 kilometers. To the residents of the city, it is an invaluable recreation area. It encompasses verdant sites, playgrounds and facilities for water sports. The zone is set among abundant trees and rare plants.

5.Al-Batwah Island is affiliated with Jubail Industrial city. A picnic site with a park and a zoo, it features plant nurseries, fishing sites and a marina.