Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia, is a major commercial, cultural, and religious center. The city's port along the Red Sea has supported its economic growth, facilitating trade across the sea, to countries including Egypt. The central business district is along King Abdullah Street, which traverses the city from King Fahd road at the waterfront. But not only does Jeddah have a bustling economy, it also has interesting architecture, luxury resorts at the Jeddah Corniche along the waterfront, with art and sculptures, and a vibrant culture with multi-ethnic cuisine.
Jeddah is a city in western Saudi Arabia, situated along the Red Sea, across from Sudan, with Egypt and Eritrea also across the way, while Jordan and Yemen are located north and south of the city along the sea. The terrain of most of the country is desert, with coastal plains known as Tihamah covering Jeddah. Jeddah is located in the lower Hijaz Mountains.
How to get there
King Abdulaziz International, located just north of Jeddah is the country's busiest airport. It has one primarily domestic terminal and one predominantly international terminal, and uniquely, has a specific terminal dedicated to Hajj travelers. Because Jeddah is located near the holy Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina, its airport serves as a gateway to the religious events. The Hajj Terminal can accommodate 80,000 travelers at once, making it one of the largest air terminals in the world (after Beijing, Dubai, and Hong Kong). The airport handles domestic flights from Saudi Airlines and international flights, especially via Pakistan International Airlines, but many other airlines and destinations as well.
Another way to get into Jeddah is via buses into from Jordan and Syria, or ferries from Egypt and Sudan.
When to visit
As Jeddah is located in the desert, summers offer high heat, though the nearby water gives welcome relief for the extreme temperatures. The waters of the Red Sea get considerably colder in winter, though the temperatures on land remain fairly warm. However, there are also dust storms during winter, which can be very unpleasant.
High season in Jeddah occurs during the Hajj season, when the airport and hotels will be very busy. Those who are not embarking on the pilgrimage may wish to avoid these times to take advantage of lower rates and smaller crowds.
What to see
Jeddah's old town, al-Balad, is demarcated by the historic gates and contains many ancient buildings, traditional souqs, or markets, where visitors can experience some of the local culture and pick up some souvenirs or street food. The main shopping and fashion district in Jeddah is Tahliya Street (now known as Prince Mohammad bin Abdul Aziz Road), where visitors can find the upscale shops. The Gold Souq is a major destination for people hunting for good deals on gold and gold jewelry. Souq al-Alawi is a shopping market lined by coral houses, which are a traditional part of Jeddah's architectural style, though today they stand in a state of disrepair. The Naseef House is the historic house of a prominent local family who made a name for themselves, and a living, in trade. Their home is now a museum that offers great views of the city.
The resort area of Jeddah Corniche is a tourist attraction that has been recently renovated and offers many areas with great views of the Red Sea. The city's King Fahd Fountain is the tallest water fountain in the world, reaching up to 312 meters (1,024 feet) above the sea level, and uses sea water.
Where to stay
There are many luxury hotels available for visitors to Jeddah. Some of the best places to stay in Jeddah include the Park Hyatt, Hilton, and Crown Plaza. The Rosewood Corniche offers luxury plus views of the Red Sea. One of the fanciest hotels in Jeddah is the Qasr Al Sharq, a Waldorf-Astoria hotel they call the Palace of the Orient. Some other options include Al-Hamra by Pullman, the Radisson in multiple locations, Marriott, Westin, and Sheraton.
Last Updated : August 12, 2014