Jeddah – The Bride of the Red Sea

Jeddah is the major commercial and industrial center on the western seaboard of Saudi Arabia. The city’s origins can be traced back 2,500 years to a small fishing village close to the current city center. In the late 1940’s Jeddah was a community of some 30,000 inhabitants living mostly within a walled town of 1 square km. Today, the core of the old walled town with its narrow winding roads and high buildings is being actively preserved by the Municipality. The small town has now expanded to a 1,200 square km. city with a population exceeding 1,500,000 composed of some 50 nationalities.
The modern city is laid out in a grid system with multi-lane dual carriageways connecting the various districts. The architecture is modern with a strong Islamic influence.

So how are you going to spend your spare time? You will quickly discover that shopping is a major attraction for many people. The expression “shop till you drop” could easily have originated in Jeddah. With over 75 large shopping malls and supermarkets, 1000’s of individual shops and the many souks (markets) scattered throughout the city, spending your salary is very easy. A wide range of goods are represented from the Far East, the Indian Subcontinent, Africa, Europe and America. Haggling over prices is common practice and a must if you want the best price for an item. Of particular note are the gold souks - items are sold by weight and the prices are very attractive.

If you enjoy eating out, we suggest you first do two things - check your weighing scales and check your cholesterol! There are hundred’s of places to visit, ranging from the $50-a-head restaurant at a five star hotel to the local fast food kiosk selling delicious shawerma sandwiches at 30 cents a time. Pizza Hut and McDonalds plus their Arabic equivalents are everywhere. And for something different you could try: French, Thai, Italian, Japanese, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Mongolian, Indonesian, Lebanese, Pakistani, Philipino, Turkish, Korean, Malaysian, American or an English Fish ‘n’ Chip shop.

After eating you may wish to burn a few calories, if so, dive into this list of activities.

  • Aerobics and keep fit classes
  • Athletics
  • Basketball
  • Billiards
  • Cricket
  • Cross Country & Road running
  • Diving
  • Fishing
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Horse Riding
  • Jet-skiing
  • Outdoor pursuits
    • camping
    • hiking
    • rock climbing
  • Rugby
  • Sailing
  • Snorkeling
  • Squash
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Ten-pin Bowling
  • Volleyball
  • Weightlifting and Gym work

These are some of the more readily available activities. However, if your energy reserves are down you could always surf the Internet or if that’s too energetic you could just soak in the sun.
There are also many clubs and interest groups catering for diverse subjects such as astronomy, Harley Davidson motorbikes or Saudi Arabian natural history.

For the longer weekend trips, Saudi Arabia has much to offer in the way of history, culture, geography and geology. An off-road vehicle is necessary for the more ambitious traveler.

Popular destinations are:

  • the Nabatean tombs in Madein Salah (500kms north of Jeddah),
  • the Hijaz Railway (made famous by Laurence of Arabia),
  • the crater and The Wildlife Center east of Al Taif town,
  • the mountainous Asir region south of Jeddah, with the cities of Abha and Khamis,
  • Desert or beach camping - the Red Sea coastline extends for over 1,800 kms.
  • Diving the islands and reefs off the Jeddah coast.

Jeddah is also well placed for international travel. The other middle eastern countries plus Egypt are within 2 hours flying time - considered no more than commuting by the locals. Further afield the delights of Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia and the Far East are within reach.

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