JEDDAH

Saudi Arabia

Jeddah is a city in the Hijaz Tihamah region on the coast of the Red Seaand is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. With a population currently at 3.4 million people, Jeddah is an important commercial hub in Saudi Arabia.

Info Jeddah

introduction

Jeddah is a city in the Hijaz Tihamah region on the coast of the Red Seaand is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. With a population currently at 3.4 million people, Jeddah is an important commercial hub in Saudi Arabia.

Jeddah is the principal gateway to Mecca, Islam's holiest city, which able-bodied Muslims are required to visit at least once in their lifetime. It is also a gateway to Medina, the second holiest place in Islam.

Economically, Jeddah is focusing on further developing capital investment in scientific and engineering leadership within Saudi Arabia, and the Middle East.  Jeddah was independently ranked fourth in the Africa – Mid-East region in terms of innovation in 2009 in the Innovation Cities Index.

Jeddah is one of Saudi Arabia's primary resort cities and was named a Gamma world city by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC). Given the city's close proximity to the Red Sea, fishing and seafood dominates the food culture unlike other parts of the country. The city has been labeled as "different" by the majority of Saudis in an effort to promote tourism in the city, that had been previously perceived as "most open" city in Saudi Arabia.

Historically, Jeddah has been well known for its legendary money changers. The largest of said money changers at the time (the late Sheikh Salem Bin Mahfouz) eventually founded Saudi Arabia's first bank, the National Commercial Bank (NCB).

info
POPULATION : 3,976,000
FOUNDED : 
TIME ZONE : Time zone AST (UTC+3)
• Summer (DST) AST (UTC)
LANGUAGE : Arabic
RELIGION : Muslim 100%
AREA :• City 1,600 km2 (600 sq mi)
• Urban 1,686 km2 (651 sq mi)
• Metro 47 km2 (18 sq mi)
ELEVATION : 12 m (39 ft)
COORDINATES : 21°32′36″N 39°10′22″E
SEX RATIO : Male: 58%
 Female: 42%
ETHNIC : Arab 90%, Afro-Asian 10%
AREA CODE :
POSTAL CODE : (5 digit codes beginning with 21; e.g. 21453)
DIALING CODE : +966-12
WEBSITE :

Tourism

Jeddah (جدّة, also spelled Jiddah) is on the Red Sea in western Saudi Arabia. It the kingdom's second largest city, with a population of approximately 3,400,000, and a major commercial center in the country. Jeddah is also the main entry point, either by air or sea, for pilgrims making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, the two most sacred cities of Islam. Both are a few hours inland from Jeddah.

The historic Jeddah has been inscribed to the World heritage list since 2014.

Jeddah has been a port and trading city for centuries, which is reflected in its cosmopolitan mix of inhabitants. Today, it is a major commercial center in Saudi Arabia. It also has many government offices. Jeddah is known in the kingdom for its shopping districts, restaurants and cafes. It also hosts the Jeddah Corniche (waterfront area), which is the largest in the Kingdom with a great bunch of hotels, beaches and resorts clustered around it.

To the North of the city, a string of beach resort compounds are off-limits to the mutawwa (religious police) and are known as party spots where many of the social mores of the rest of the country are flouted, especially by rich, liberal families from Jeddah.

History

Pre-Islam

Excavations in the old city suggest that Jeddah was founded as a fishing hamlet in 522 BC by the Yemeni Quda'a tribe (بني قضاعة), who left central Yemen to settle in Makkah  after the destruction of the Marib Dam in Yemen.

Other archaeological studies have shown that the area was settled earlier by people in the Stone Age, as some Thamudi scripts were excavated in Wadi Briman (وادي بريمان), west of the city, and Wadi Boweb (وادي بويب), northwest of the city. The city of Jeddah was an important port during Nabataeans frankincense trade .The oldestMashrabiya was found in jeddah dates back to pre Islamic era .


Rashidun Caliphate

Jeddah first achieved prominence around 647 AD, when the third Muslim Caliph, Uthman Ibn Affan (عثمان بن عفان), turned it into a port making it the port of Makkah instead of Al Shoaiba port south west of Mecca. In 703 AD Jeddah was briefly occupied by pirates from the Kingdom of Axum. Jeddah has been established as the main city of the historic Hijaz province and a historic port for pilgrims arriving by sea to perform their Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.


Fatimid Caliphate

In the 969 AD, the Fatimids from Algeria took control in Egypt from the Ikhshidid dynasty and expanded their empire to the surrounding regions, including The Hijaz and Jeddah. The Fatimids developed an extensive trade network in both the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean through theRed Sea. Their trade and diplomatic ties extended all the way to China and its Song Dynasty, which eventually determined the economic course of Tihamah during the High Middle Ages.


Ayyubid Empire

After Saladin's conquest of Jerusalem, in 1171 he proclaimed himself sultan of Egypt, after dissolving the Fatimid Caliphate upon the death of al-Adid, thus establishing the Ayyubid dynasty. Ayyubid conquests in Hejaz included Jeddah, which joined the Ayyubid Empire in 1177 during the leadership of Sharif Ibn Abul-Hashim Al-Thalab (1094–1201). During their relatively short-lived tenure, the Ayyubids ushered in an era of economic prosperity in the lands they ruled and the facilities and patronage provided by the Ayyubids led to a resurgence in intellectual activity in the Islamic world. This period was also marked by an Ayyubid process of vigorously strengtheningSunni Muslim dominance in the region by constructing numerous madrasas(Islamic schools) in their major cities. Jeddah attracted Muslim sailors and merchants from Sindh, Southeast Asia and East Africa, and other distant regions.


Mamluk Sultanate

In 1254, following events in Cairo and the dissolution of the Ayyubid Empire, Hijaz became a part of the Mamluk Sultanate. The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, having found his way around the Cape and obtained pilots from the coast of Zanzibar in 1497 CE, pushed his way across the Indian Ocean to the shores of Malabar and Calicut, attacked fleets that carried freight and Muslim pilgrims from India to the Red Sea, and struck terror into the surrounding potentates. The Princes of Gujarat and Yemen turned for help to Egypt. Sultan Al-Ashraf Qansuh al-Ghawriaccordingly fitted out a fleet of 50 vessels under his Admiral, Hussein the Kurd. Jeddah was soon fortified with a stone wall, using forced labor, as a harbor of refuge from the Portuguese, allowing Arabia and the Red Sea to be protected. Parts of the city wall still survive today in the old city. Even though the Portuguese were successfully repelled from the city, fleets in theIndian Ocean were at their mercy. This was evidenced by the Battle of Diubetween the Portuguese and the Arab Mamluks. The Portuguese soldiers' cemetery can still be found within the old city today and is referred to as the site of the Christian Graves.


Ottoman Empire

In 1517, the Ottoman Turks conquered the Mamluk Sultanate in Egypt and Syria, during the reign of Selim I.  As territories of the Mamluk Sultanate, the Hijaz, including Jeddah and the holy city of Mecca, passed into Ottoman possession. The Ottomans rebuilt the weak walls of Jeddah in 1525 following their victory over the Lopo Soares de Albergaria's Armada in the Red Sea. The new Turkish wall included six watchtowers and six city gates. They were constructed to defend against the Portuguese attack. Of the six gates, the Gate of Meccawas the eastern gate and the Gate of Al-Magharibah, facing the port, was the western gate. The Gate of Sharif faced south. The other gates were the Gate of Al-Bunt, Gate of Al-Sham (also called Gate of Al-Sharaf) and Gate of Medina, facing north. The Turks also built The Qishla of Jeddah, a small castle for the city soldiers. In the 19th century these seven gates were minimized into four giant gates with four towers. These giant gates were the Gate of Sham to the north, the Gate of Mecca to the east, the Gate of Sharif to the south, and the Gate of Al-Magharibah on the sea side.

Ahmed Al-Jazzar, the Ottoman military man mainly known for his role in the Siege of Acre, spent the earlier part of his career at Jeddah. In Jeddah in 1750, he killed some seventy rioting nomads in retaliation for the killing of his commander, Abdullah Beg, earning him the nickname "Jezzar" (butcher).

On 15 June 1858, rioting in the city, believed to have been instigated by a former police chief in reaction to British policy in the Red Sea, led to the massacre of 25 Christians, including the British and French consuls, members of their families, and wealthy Greek merchants.  The British frigate HMS Cyclops, anchored at port, bombarded the city for two days and restored law and order.


First Saudi State and Ottoman–Saudi War

In 1802, Nejdi forces conquered both Mecca and Jeddah from the Ottomans. When Sharif Ghalib Efendi informed Sultan Mahmud II of this, the Sultan ordered his Egyptian viceroy Muhammad Ali Pasha to retake the city. Muhammad Ali successfully regained the city in the Battle of Jeddah in 1813.


World War I and the Hashemite Kingdom

During World War I, Sharif Hussein bin Alideclared a revolt against the Ottoman Empire, seeking independence from the Ottoman Turks and the creation of a single unified Arab state spanning from Aleppo inSyria to Aden in Yemen.

King Hussein declared the Kingdom of Hejaz. Later, Hussein was involved in war with Ibn Saud, who was the Sultan of Nejd. Hussein abdicated following the fall of Mecca, in December 1924, and his son Ali bin Hussein became the new king.


Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

A few months later, Ibn Saud, whose clan originated in the central Nejd province, conquered Medinaand Jeddah via an agreement with Jeddans following the Second Battle of Jeddah. He deposed Ali bin Hussein, who fled to Baghdad, eventually settling in Amman,Jordan, where his descendants became part of its Hashemite royalty.

As a result, Jeddah came under the sway of the Al-Saud dynasty in December 1925. In 1926, Ibn Saud added the title King of Hejaz to his position of Sultan of Nejd. Today, Jeddah has lost its historical role in peninsular politics after Jeddah fell within the new province of Makkah, whose provincial capital is the city of Mecca.

From 1928 to 1932, the new Khuzam Palace was built as the new residence of King Abdul Aziz in Jeddah. The palace lies south of the old walled city and was constructed under the supervision of the engineer Muhammad bin Laden. After 1963, the palace was used as a royal guest house; since 1995, it has housed the Regional Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography.

The remaining walls and gates of the old city were demolished in 1947. A fire in 1982 destroyed some ancient buildings in the old town center, called Al-Balad, but much is still preserved despite the commercial interest to tear down old houses (Naseef House, Gabil House) and build modern high-rise buildings. A house-by-house survey of the old districts was made in 1979, showing that some 1000 traditional buildings still existed, though the number of structures with great historic value was far less. In 1990, a Jeddah Historical Area Preservation Department was founded.

The modern city has expanded wildly beyond its old boundaries. The built-up area expanded mainly to the north along the Red Sea coastline, reaching the new airport during the 1990s and since edging its way around it toward the Ob'hur Creek, some 27 km (17 mi) from the old city center.

Climate

The climate is dry and hot. The best time to visit is on January and February, when it is the least hot.

The sea water becomes quite hot from July to October.

ClimateJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
 
Daily highs (°C)303032353738393838363431
Nightly lows (°C)171718202324252625232118
Precipitation (mm)101251000001816
 

Source: Weather2Travel

Jeddah mean sea temperature

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
26 °C25 °C25 °C26 °C28 °C29 °C31 °C31 °C31 °C30 °C29 °C27 °C

Geography

Jeddah is located in Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coastal plain (calledTihamah). Jeddah lies in the Hijazi Tihama (Arabic: تهامة الحجاز) region which is in the lower Hijaz mountains. Historically, politically and culturally, Jeddah was a major city of Hejaz Vilayet, the Kingdom of Hejaz and other regional political entities according to Hijazi history books. It is the 100th largest city in the world by land area.

Economy

Jeddah has long been a port city. Even before being designated the port city for Mecca, Jeddah was a trading hub for the region. In the 19th century, goods such as mother-of-pearl, tortoise shells, frankincense, and spices were routinely exported from the city. Apart from this, many imports into the city were destined for further transit to the Suez, Africa, or Europe. Many goods passing through Jeddah could not even be found in the city or even in Arabia.

All of the capitals of the Middle East and North Africa are within two hours flying distance of Jeddah, making it the second commercial center of the Middle East after Dubai.

Also, Jeddah's industrial district is the fourth largest industrial city in Saudi Arabia after Riyadh, Jubail and Yanbu.

Subdivisions

Metropolitan Jeddah comprises 137 districts.

Internet, Comunication

Most shopping malls have Internet cafes. Coffee places such as Costa Coffee, StarBucks Coffee, Barnies, Second Cup and many more provide WiFi access to customers.

Prices in Jeddah

PRICES LIST - USD

MARKET / SUPERMARKET

Milk1 liter$1.16
Tomatoes1 kg$1.70
Cheese0.5 kg$6.00
Apples1 kg$1.80
Oranges1 kg$1.20
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$
Bottle of Wine1 bottle$
Coca-Cola2 liters$1.35
Bread1 piece$0.44
Water1.5 l$0.52

PRICES LIST - USD

RESTAURANTS

Dinner (Low-range)for 2$29.00
Dinner (Mid-range)for 2$54.00
Dinner (High-range)for 2$77.00
Mac Meal or similar1 meal$5.40
Water0.33 l$0.25
Cappuccino1 cup$2.70
Beer (Imported)0.33 l$
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$
Coca-Cola0.33 l$0.40
Coctail drink1 drink$

PRICES LIST - USD

ENTERTAINMENT

Cinema2 tickets$30.00
Gym1 month$80.00
Men’s Haircut1 haircut$6.00
Theatar2 tickets$62.00
Mobile (prepaid)1 min.$0.12
Pack of Marlboro1 pack$2.75

PRICES LIST - USD

PERSONAL CARE

Antibiotics1 pack$
Tampons32 pieces$
Deodorant50 ml.$4.90
Shampoo400 ml.$5.60
Toilet paper4 rolls$3.00
Toothpaste1 tube$2.00

PRICES LIST - USD

CLOTHES / SHOES

Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)1$55.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M)1$
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)1$85.00
Leather shoes1$77.00

PRICES LIST - USD

TRANSPORTATION

Gasoline1 liter$0.21
TaxiStart$2.70
Taxi1 km$
Local Transport1 ticket$0.55

Tourist (Backpacker)  

79 $ per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • meals in cheap restaurant
  • public transport
  • cheap hotel

Tourist (business/regular)  

210 $ per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • mid-range meals and drinks
  • transportation
  • hotel

Transportation - Get In

Transportation - Get In

By plane

King Abdulaziz International Airport, is the largest airport in the Kingdom and is well served by airlines from around the world.

Unfortunately, despite its importance and the Kingdom's wealth, the airport has been known for being in miserable shape with dust, flies and poor to nonexistent signage. In 2011 renovations to the airport were completed.

There are two regular terminals and they are located on opposite sites of the massive apron and are nearly 8 km apart. The only formal access between the two terminals is by taxi.


South terminal

  • Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia). All Saudi airlines use this facility, including domestic services.Nas Air, a privately-owned Saudi low-cost carrier, also operates domestic and some international flights to and from this terminal. Air France, Korean Air, and Kenya Airways, beingpart of the SkyTeam alliance along with Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), also operate flights to and from this terminal.

North terminal

Used by all other international flights.


Hajj terminals

There are also two special terminals, used exclusively for Hajj pilgrims heading directly to Mecca, which are basically enormous tents of fiberglass fabric on reinforced concrete poles and steel cables. Driving to the normal non-Hajj terminal, you pass between the two. In season, this lets you admire long rows of large aircraft parked alongside the Hajj terminals.


Connections to the city

A taxi to the city from either will cost around SR50, so agree on the fare before you set off.

Transportation - Get In

By Train

A new high-speed railway linking Jeddah with Medina and Mecca is currently under construction and expected to open in December 2016.

Transportation - Get In

By Bus

Also there are many bus routes to neighboring countries, especially Jordan. Usually bus trip starts in Syria down to Amman, Jordan then to most Saudi major cities. However, make sure before booking your seat that you don't have a "by air only" entry visa. Most bus companies in Amman are located in Abdali. Ticket price is around 25 JD, some companies have daily trips to large cities like Jeddah. Make sure to check buses before booking, as some companies have old and small seats buses (this is a long trip, so make sure to pick a company with "business class" buses, some companies offer business class buses at a price cheaper than "normal buses" companies!). Trip is about 18 hours nonstop through Medina route (there are two routes for the trip, sea route passing by Yanbua which is a rough one but short, and Medina route)

Transportation - Get In

By ferry

Jeddah is one of the major ports along the Red Sea and cargo ships arrive here from all over the world with plenty of choices for travellers, too. Al-Blagha is one of the largest shipping companies and operates several ferry routes, most notable a once-weekly service from Suez taking 42 hours (1st/2nd/3rd class SR845/695/395, car from SR850). There's also a service from Suakin, 50 kilometres south of Port Sudan, three times a week with journey time of 10 hours (1st/2nd/3rd SR470/370/300, car from SR460). A more irregular ferry service is available from Al Hudayda in Yemen.

Ferries fill up quick during high season, meaning Hajj and Ramadan, so book early.


Transportation - Get Around

Transportation - Get Around

By taxi

Many of the hotels chains have a "water taxi" or a small minivan that will take you to the mall and main shopping areas. Taxis are very inexpensive, with most 10 minute rides costing about SR10-20. There are two types of taxis: one is yellow and will have a sign that says, simply, TAXI. They are usually cheaper, but a little "rougher" on the inside and out and usually are not air conditioned. But they are very rare in Jeddah now. Also, most of them are now air-conditioned new cars. If you're looking for better quality, opt for the white "Limousine" taxis which are of better quality. There is a rule in KSA that a Limousine must not be older than 5 years. So, you find all the new cars in Limousines. Limousine taxis are about $1–3 more expensive. There are also "unlicensed" taxis, which are normal cars (usually a Toyota Camry) without the "TAXI" sign. Those taxis are cheaper than "Limousines" but are not legal. Police take strict actions against such taxis, so to avoid them. Normally they honk or flash lights when they see you standing in street (you can't recognize them as they're normal cars).

It can be cheaper to negotiate a fixed price than to use the meter. This requires some experience with Jeddah and its streets. Sometimes, a taxi driver will pretend to be "lost" as a pretext to turn on the meter or make you pay extra in exchange for his "lost time". Whatever the situation, never consent to pay more than the price you agreed on before the beginning of the ride. Also, some Saudi drivers ask for a higher price and don't treat clients very well, so look for Indian or Pakistani drivers.

Many rental agencies like Avis or Budget will rent you a 2008 mid-size car for the price of SR100-140 per day. You'll also find a bargain when it comes to fuel, as Saudi Arabia has some of the cheapest petrol prices in the world. The streets are wide and signs are written in both Arabic and English. Look for maps in the libraries or big supermarkets.

Transportation - Get Around

By bus

Buses are not a commonly-used means of transportation in Jeddah even though you can ride one for SR1-2 from certain main streets to Albalad (downtown). It is, however, a very interesting way to enjoy traditional Arab music and the sound of people mixing together all while enjoying sights during the ride. Smaller buses are mostly private so the owner is responsible for cleanliness. Larger buses are provided by the government, which are big and clean but don't follow a schedule, so consider using the smaller buses if you're on a specific timetable.

Transportation - Get Around

By boat

Boats are not particularly a means of transportation, but rather a way to enjoy the views of the Red Sea. You can catch boats in Obhur north of Jeddah at the marina; a one hour ride in a small boat is around SR200 (US$55).

 

Hotels

- BEST RATED -

Hotels

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Shopping

There are a number of shopping malls in Jeddah.

  • Hera'a Mall. located on Madina St
  • Mall of Arabia. Recently opened and claims to be the biggest shopping mall in Saudi Arabia on Madina St, rivaling Hera'a Mall.
  • Red Sea Mall. It is one of the biggest shopping malls in Jeddah on King Abdulaziz Road.
  • Star's Avenue. One of the newest malls on Al-Malek Road, featuring a Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Tahlia CenterTahlia St
  • Jeddah MallTahlia St. Not a lot of variety but has a great food court to hang out in
  • Al Khayyat CentrewTahlia St. Find international designer brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, LV, Fendi, and Dior
  • Al Basateen. A favorite hang out for teenagers.
  • Le Mall. First Starbucks branch in Jeddah
  • Coral Mall. Rivals Le Mall's Starbucks with a large Bert's Cafe
  • Hera'a Mall
  • Aziz Mall, (close to the Airplane roundabout opposite Abdul Latif Jameel).
  • Roshan Mall. King Abdulaziz Rd.
  • Roshana Mall. Altahlia St.
  • Al-Andlus Mall. (on the road to King Abdul Aziz University (KAAU))
  • Jeddah International Mall. Oldest Mall in Jeddah, specialising in Gold and Filipino food
  • Jamjoom Center.

Restaurants

Jeddah is full of restaurants with almost every cuisine imaginable and eating out is part of the city's culture. All the restaurants have separate sections for single men and for families. Dating is theoretically forbidden but widely practiced, and most restaurants will allow a couple into the family section without question. All businesses close for prayer for about half an hour at noon and at sunset. They close again an hour after sunset for about 45 minutes. If you like to eat early, you can often stay in a restaurant during prayer time. Saudis tend to eat late, well after the evening prayer. To eat and have fun, Vertigo Cafe and Grille is one of the best American-Italian restaurants in Jeddah. They also serve shisha, and they have a very nice music. A top class restaurant.

The standard cheap meal is the shawarma - giant layers of beef or chicken turning on a vertical spit. Thin slices are cut off and served with vegetables, garlic, and sauce in pita bread. You can also find a few falafel shops or eat at boofias (cornershops). Another thing that is very cheap is Homus, which is the paste of white chickpeas mixed with olive oil, and is very tasty. Try the Filipino Souk near Saudia City. Ask for the Pakistani area Kababish. There's a group of shops and restaurants with very low prices. Most of the American Fast Food franchises can be found in Jeddah, including McDonald's, Applebee's, Subway, and numerous others.


Budget

  • Al Baik. One of the most popular fast food chain of Saudi Arabia available in Jeddah, Makkah, Madina & Yanbu. Al Baik has 25 branches in Jeddah. Saudi dishes as well as fast food.
  • Haifa mallMadina & Palastine Crossing Rd.

Mid-range

  • Barrio FiestaAl-Mahmal Centre top floor (al-Balad). Very popular Filipino eatery offering a gamut of Filipino fare like kare-kare. Basic fried rice and such for under SR10, but most main courses (SR30-50) come in huge portions designed to be shared.
  • KhayalPrince Sultan Road, History Roundabout. One of the best Turkish restaurants in Jeddah. It offers a variety of Turkish food to its customers. Especially, fresh fruit juices and kunafah (a traditional dessert) are delicious. (SR 50-100).

Splurge

  • Bice, Qasr al Sharq. Italian restaurant with sea views.
  • Mataam Al Sharq, Qasr al Sharp. Lebanese cuisine.
  • Al Khayyam Restaurant. Persian cuisine at the Jeddah Hilton.
  • Cafe Vienna. Italian Cafe at the Jeddah Hilton.
  • At Layaly Al-Hejaz, (Hejazi nights). Tahliya Street.
  • At Al-Nakheel. Corniche area. Traditional food with sheesha.
  • Villa d'Este Cafe. Al Tahliah Street. Al Khayyat Centre 2. (behind Jeddah Mall). Italian coffee shop with a very special garden.
  • Bubbles. Corniche Jeddah waterfront.
  • Senses. Japanese cuisine.
  • Caffe Aroma. Theme-fusion food located on Corniche.
  • Papaya. International food next to Sawary Mall.
  • Yildizlar,  +966 2 653 1150. In front of Saudi American Bank, Al Hamra Area. Excellent Turkish, Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian food.

Sights & Landmarks


Al-Balad (Old Town)

Jeddah's top sight is al-Balad, or the old town. The city wall has long since been torn down, but the old gates still mark where it once stood. Within you'll find a warren of ancient buildings and traditional souqs (markets), and the teetering, multistory coral houses that Jeddah is famous for. Unfortunately, coral is not a very durable building material, and most of the buildings are in disrepair. Spend time wandering around the old city and get lost in the seemingly endless souks. You will find yourself in another world and entirely 'in' the world, surrounded by people from all over the Arab world, Asia and Africa.

  • Souq al-Alawi. At the heart of the old city, coral houses line both sides of this busy market street. A photography permit is theoretically necessary (inquire at the office behind Naseef house), but in practice nobody seems to bat an eyelid as long as you don't stick your camera in people's faces without permission.
  • Naseef House (بيت نصيف, Bayt Nasseef). 5-9PM (closed Fri?). The former house of one of Jeddah's main trading families is now being renovated as a museum and cultural center. Great views from the top floors when it's open.SR20.

Other

The Jeddah Corniche offers spectacular views of the Red Sea. Check out the main shopping street on Tahliya for interesting wares, and if you're looking for good quality gold, try the Gold Souq where you can bargain for 18k and 24k gold by weight. The King Fahd Fountain is not only the tallest water fountain in Jeddah, but also the world.


Landmarks

King Fahd's Fountain

King Fahd's Fountain was built in the 1980s, can be seen from a great distance and, at 312 metres (1,024 ft), is the highest water jet in the world according to the Guinness World Records. The fountain was donated to the City of Jeddah by the late King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, after whom it was named.

NCB Tower

Built in 1983 and believed to be the highest tower in Saudi Arabia during the 1980s, with a height of over 235 m (771 ft), the National Commercial Bank was Saudi Arabia's first bank.

IDB Tower

The Islamic Development Bank is a multilateral development financing institution. It was founded by the first conference of Finance Ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC, now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation), convened 18 December 1973. The bank officially began its activities on 20 October 1975.

Jeddah Municipality Tower

This is the headquarters of the metropolitan area of Jeddah. The municipality's new building is one of Jeddah's tallest.

Jeddah Tower

This proposed tower, formerly known as the Kingdom Tower, is to be built in Jeddah by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal and will stand 1-kilometre (0.62 mi) tall. Upon its completion, it will be the tallest skyscraper in the world. The building has been scaled down from its initial 1.6 km (1 mi) proposal, since the ground proved unsuitable for a building that tall, to a height of at least 1,000 metres (3,280.84 ft) (the exact height is being kept private while in development, similar to the Burj Khalifa), which, at about one kilometre (0.62 miles), would still make it by far the tallest building or structure in the world to date, standing at least 173 m (568 ft) taller than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

King Road Tower

King Road Tower is a commercial and office building, the external walls of which are used to show commercials. The building also has a helipad on its roof. King Road Tower has the largest LED display in the world on its walls.

Al Jawharah Tower

Al Jawharah Tower is a residential high-rise under construction. It became the third-tallest structure in Jeddah when completed in 2014.

Jeddah Flagpole

The King Abdullah Square on the intersection of Andalus Road with King Abdullah Road has the world's tallest flagpole. It is 171 meters high and the Saudi flag atop it weighs 570 kilograms. On the 84th Saudi National Day, September 23, 2014, the flagpole hoisted a huge Saudi flag before a crowd of thousands. The flagpole succeeded Dushanbe Flagpole as the tallest flagpole in the world.

Entrance of Mecca

The Mecca Gate, named the "Quran Gate", is located on the Makkah Mukkarram road of theJeddah - Mecca Highway. It is the entrance toMecca and the birthplace of Muhammad. The gate signifies the boundary of the haram area of the city of Mecca, where non-Muslims are prohibited to enter.

The gate was designed in 1979 by an Egyptian architect, Samir Elabd, for the architectural firm IDEA Center. The structure is that of a book, representing the Quran, sitting on a rehal, or book stand.

Museums & Galleries

There are about a dozen museums or collections in Jeddah, with varied educational aims and professionalism. These include the Jeddah Regional Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography run by the Deputy Ministry of Antiquities and Museums, the Jeddah Municipal Museum, the Nasseef House, the Humane Heritage Museum, the private Abdul Rauf Hasan Khalil Museum and the private Arts Heritage Museum.

Things to do


Scuba diving

Scuba diving is a major draw for expats in the Kingdom, although the Saudis themselves seem oblivious to the treasures that await offshore.

Because of Jeddah's location on the Red Sea, the flora and fauna are quite similar to what you'd see on Egypt's Red Sea Coast or off the Sinai Peninsula, only minus all the tourists.

Visibility can be spectacular (30-40m is common) and the corals are virtually untouched. There are plenty of interesting sites to explore like the Chicken Wreck, a boat carrying tons of frozen chicken that hit the reef and sunk at a depth of 10-18m. Most of the better dive sites are around one hour out to sea by speed boat.

The Red Sea gets chilly in the winter, with water temperatures dropping to 22°C, so you'll want to use a 5 mm wetsuit with hood. In summer, temperatures climb up to a much more balmy 29°C, and 3mm shorty or 1 mm diveskin is plenty.

  • Desert Sea DiversObhur (40 km north of Jeddah),  +966 2 6561807. The oldest and largest diving outfit in Jeddah, which puts three boats out to sea on a busy weekend. Uses fast and comfortable custom-built dive boats, and all trips include a tasty hot lunch. Gear rental and transfers to/from central Jeddah (SR150 return) extra. Offers on-site accommodation and can also arrange tourist visas to Saudi for diver groups with at least 2 months' notice. SR200/250/300 for 1/2/3 boat dives.

Parks

  • Water park at Sail Island - a good spot, especially for families, when the blazing Saudi Arabian sun becomes too much to bear. The park was built on an artificial peninsula and is covered by several sail-like tents, which offer shade while you enjoy the pool and recreation facilities.
  • Atallah Happy Land Park (Jeddah Corniche), +966 2 699 1157. 5PM. An amusement park with indoor and outdoor rides and attractions, ice skating and bowling, dining and shopping, 6D theatre and live shows. SR25.
  • Al-Shalal Theme Park (Fakieh Poultry Farms), Jeddah Corniche near end of Sary St.. The park boasts of having the largest double looped roller coaster in the Asian continent. Operational since 2004, the roller coaster at the Theme Park is 34 m high and caters to more than 700 visitors/hr. The two storey entertainment building at the centre of the Park features an ice skating rink and a theme area, a roller skating rink and the Amazon Ride with a jungle theme, complete with life-size figures of animals, light and sound effects. The Amazon Ride is spread over an area of 1800 m2 with a lagoon and 15 m high waterfall. Seven restaurants, party rooms and a games arcade are housed in the entertainment building. The party rooms can be reserved by the public for birthday parties and private gatherings at reasonable rates. The park also has a European village theme area, a Far East village area and a large number of retail outlets for souvenirs and soft toys for the children. The complex has a separate building for car parking which can accommodate 300 cars plus an additional open air parking facility which has an additional capacity of 300 cars.

Nightlife

Like all Saudi Arabian cities, you aren't going to find much nightlife revolving around alcohol in Jeddah, as the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol are illegal throughout the kingdom. What you should be able to find are shisha cafes and a large variety of coffee shops such as: Barncafe, Java Lounge, Vertigo, Starbucks, Mugs & Beans, Costa Coffee and Second Cup. Non-alcoholic beer is available in restaurants as are non-alcoholic cocktails and other drinks. Alcoholic drinks are usually served in private compounds and beaches for Westerners, where Saudis are usually not allowed in.

Safety in Jeddah

Stay Safe

While not as strict as Riyadh, Jeddah still falls under Islamic law.

Local women normally wear a hijab (headscarf) and abaya (long black overgarment) to cover their heads and entire bodies. Abayas, not only hijabs, are also required for Western women; however, this is not strictly enforced.

While you may be able to find alcohol at private parties, it is still forbidden in Saudi Arabia. Corporal punishment for Westerners is rare, but it has happened on occasion.

Saudi Arabia - Travel guide

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