Al-Khobar is one of the three main cities in the Eastern Province, the others being Dammam and Dhahran. These three cities form a closely joined triangle which has existed for centuries. In the past, Al-Khobar was a small port on the Arabian Gulf, inhabited mainly by fishermen. With the discovery of oil, it was transformed into an industrial port. In time, it has become the commercial hub of the Eastern Province. Based on a city plan dating back to 1942 (1361H), the city is neatly divided into residential squares evenly transected by roads. Such careful organization is indicative of its important role in the national economy. Along with its industrial port, the city still serves small ships carrying passengers and goods. It is the center of the area's export-import activity, and is a transit point for goods that are distributed throughout the Kingdom. It contains branches of all the country's major banks as well as fine hotels, some along its picturesque Corniche. It is developing into an important industrial city, with factories turning out industrial gas, dairy products, carbonated water, tissue paper and ready-made garments.