Dhahran was settled after 1938, the year oil was discovered in the vicinity.
During WW II on 19 October 1940 Dhahran was struck by Italian Royal Air Force (Regia Aeronautica) as a part of Bombing of Bahrain, causing little damage. In 1950 Dhahran had a population of about 7,000 people. During the Gulf War, the city was the scene of the largest loss of life among coalition forces. On February 25, 1991, an Iraqi missile hit a U.S. Army barracks in the city, killing 28 American reservists from Pennsylvania