Jeddah (جِدّة, also spelled Jiddah) is on the Red Sea in western Saudi Arabia. It is the second largest city, with a population of approximately 3,400,000, and a major commercial center in the country.
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 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.
Traditional coral houses off Souq al-Alawi in al-Balad
Jeddah is also the main entry point, either by air or sea, for pilgrims making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, the two sacred cities of Islam. Both are a few hours inland from Jeddah.
Jeddah is a huge city that sprawls along the coast of the Red Sea, connected together by the Corniche, a seaside avenue full of bizarre sculptures and nearly 30 km long. The old city or al-Balad, on the southern side of modern Jeddah, is a crumbling but fascinating warren of multi-story houses made from coral. The main thoroughfare Medina Road starts from the northern side of al-Balad and runs all the way to the city.
King Abdulaziz International Airport, (IATA: JED), is the largest airport in the Kingdom and is well served by airlines from around the world.
Jeddah Airport had recently been moved to the new terminal. It is the biggest Airport in Saudi. The old South terminal is already closed and now all domestic and international flights are operated through terminal 1 since June 2020.
The airport is considered the top airport in Saudi and at current stage it serves 30 million passengers with plans to accommodate up to 100 million passengers in subsequent stage.
Connections to the city
A taxi to the city from either will cost between SR60 to SR130, so agree on the fare before you set off. It is cheaper to go with one of the locals at arrival terminals who will be offering his services.
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)
Travelers coming from Egypt and Sudan, precisly Port Sudan, have a choice to take a ferry.
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 (about USD $3-6). 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 and usually are not air conditioned. But they are very rare in Jeddah now. And the other is the more common white, air conditioned, better quality taxis locally known as "Limousines". There is a rule in KSA that a Limousine must not be older than 5 years. So most Limousines are either new or fairly new. Most Limousines are Toyota Camry's, Hyundai Elantras and Hyundai Sonatas, but it is not uncommon to see more high end Limousines which will be privately owned, licensed taxis. Limousine taxis are about USD $1-3 more expensive. There are also "unlicensed" taxis, those are normal cars (usually a Toyota Camry) without the "TAXI" sign. Those taxis are cheaper than a "Limousine" but these Taxis are not legal. Police take strict actions against such Taxis but but the passenger is usually just left to take another taxi. Try to avoid getting in such taxis, besides, you will most probably not be saving more than SR10(about USD $3). Normally they honk or flash their lights when they see you standing by the road.
Take note that you can negotiate with a taxi driver for a fixed price, which is much cheaper than using the meter. Hardly any resident of Jeddah asks to use the meter. Though this needs some "experience" with Jeddah and its streets. Sometimes a taxi driver will pretend to be "lost" so he would turn on the meter or make you pay extra in exchange for his "lost time". Whatever the case, never pay more than you agreed to pay at the beginning of the ride. The average taxi fee is SR10-30,depending on how far your destination is and the traffic crowd.
Also take note that some Saudi drivers ask for higher prices but if you need to get there fast and aren't faint of heart, then a Saudi driver is your best bet. On the other hand, if you want to get there cheaply and safely, then go for Indian or Pakistani drivers.
Many rental agencies, like Avis or Budget, will rent you the latest mid-size car for the price of SR100-140 (about USD $30-50) 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 (USD $0.36 a gallon for 91 octane gas, and USD $0.48 for 95 octane gas).
The streets are wide, but often crowded due to numerous roadworks throughout the city, and signs are written in both Arabic and English. Look for maps in the libraries or big supermarkets.
If you have access to the internet you may book a car/limo using applications such as UBER, Careem or EasyTaxi. The cars provided are clean, the drivers are friendly and the fare is cheap. Plus, you don't have to worry about communicating directions, most of these apps are joined with google maps.
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.
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).
- Al-Balad. 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 form all over the Arab world, Asia and Africa. Here you will see many forms of dress that are colorful as well as the traditional black. Many of the shops and stores are cut into the sides of buildings and offer stacks of colorful clothing. edit
- Dakar Rally. For many years Dakar was home for the annual desert rally, which was first held in 1977 as Paris-Dakar Rally. In the past, the rally was held on the rally tracks of Southern Europe, in the mountains and deserts of northern Africa until 2007. Since 2009 the Dakar Rally had been taking place on the South American continent and starting from 2020 in Western Asia. Two years in a row Jeddah city helds this event. edit
- Jeddah Corniche. It offers the spectacular views of the Red Sea. edit
- King Fahd Fountain. edit* It is not only the tallest water fountain in Jeddah, but also the world.
- Naseef House. 5-9PM (closed Fri?). The former house of one of Jeddah's main trading families is now being renovated as a museum of sorts. Great views from the top floors when it's open. edit
- 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. (21.5434857,39.1729892) edit
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 Divers, Obhur (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. edit
- When the blazing Saudi Arabian sun becomes too much for you to handle, try checking out the water park at Sail Island. The park was built on artificial peninsula and is covered by several sail-like tents, which offer shade while you enjoy the pool and recreation facilities. A great spot for children.
- 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. edit
- 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 34m high and caters to more than 700 visitors each hour. The two storey entertainment building at the center 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 1,800m² with a lagoon and 15m 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 pretty 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. edit
Jeddah is flourishing with the number of expats from the philippines. With basketball being the number one sport for filipinos, it may come as a great surprise for basketball enthusiasts, the number of ball parks present in Jeddah.
There are many places to find work in Jeddah and jobs are plentiful, but unemployment among Saudi nationals remains high especially among the youth population. One must obtain a visa to work in Saudi Arabia and the complicated process can only begin with a sponsorship from a company or individual already located in the Kingdom. Western expats cannot simply arrive in Saudi Arabia and then look for employment; needless to say, Western women will experience great challenges in finding employment.
- Al Khayyat Centrew, Tahlia St. Find international designer brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, LV, Fendi, and Dior edit
- Al-Andulus Mall. Located on the road to King Abdul Aziz University (KAAU) edit
- Al-Salaam Mall, King Abdullah Road (near al-Andalus mall). edit
- Aziz Mall. Close to the Airplane roundabout opposite Abdul Latif Jameel edit
- Hera'a Mall. located on Madina St edit
- Jeddah Mall, Tahlia St. Not a lot of variety but has a great food court to hang out in edit
- Le Prestige Mall, 3683 King Abdul Aziz Rd, Ash Shati, 8322، Jeddah 21563 3683. First Starbucks branch in Jeddah. As of September 2015, Le Mall has IHOP, Starbucks, PF Changs, Pizza Express, and The Cheesecake Factory Restaurants. Le Mall has no shopping and only has the above listed restaurants. edit
- Mall of Arabia, . Recently opened and claims to be the biggest shopping mall in Saudi Arabia on Madina St, rivaling Hera'a Mall. edit
- Red Sea Mall, . It is one of the biggest shopping malls in Jeddah on King Abdulaziz Road. As of Septmeber 2015, there are a large variety of stores such as, Virgin Megastore, American Eagle Outfitters, Pottery Barn, Mobily, Zain, STC, Nestle Toll House Cafe, Starbucks, Tim Horton's Cafe, Timberland, Columbia, Skechers, Nike, Adidas, Victoria's Secret, Sephora, MAC, Steakhouse restaurant, a large food court, etc. edit
- Roshan Mall. King Abdulaziz Rd. edit
- Roshana Mall. Altahlia St. Roshana Mall is the location of the first Virgin Megastore in Saudi Arabia. edit
- Serafi MegaMall. It is on the Tahlia St. and diagonally across from IKEA (the only IKEA currently in Jeddah). edit
- Star's Avenue. One of the newest malls on Al-Malek Road, featuring a Saks Fifth Avenue edit
- Tahlia Center, Tahlia St. 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. It is not only the tallest water fountain in Jeddah, but also the world. edit
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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.
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.
- 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. It serves fried chicken (broasted chicken)with a great garlic sauce.
- Abu Zaid. They have several branches around the city. Abu Zaid serves Ful, which is cooked and mashed fava beans seasoned with different spices such as cumin. It is usually eaten with big, round, sesame-garnished bread called Tamis. They also serve different kinds of local food such as Masoub and Mutabbaq
- AL-TAZAJ . Is another fastfood restaurant which is famous for its Farooj Chicken (young chicken) that is grilled. This is considered a healthier option for eating, with calories for the chicken is said to be less than 200. One chicken is usually enough for 1 adult as its small in size, with a coast of SR16 and served with freshly baked bread. There are also many other options, e.g. icluding rice and chicken.
- Indian food.There are a number of Indian and Pakistani restaurants around the city. Chennai Durbar is one good option in Jeddah.
- Haifa mall, Madina & Palastine Crossing Rd. edit
- Barrio Fiesta, Al-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. edit
- Khayal, Prince 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). edit
- 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, in front of Saudi American Bank, Al Hamra Area, ☎ +966 2 653 1150. Excellent Turkish, Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian food.
Like all Saudi Arabian cities, you aren't going to find much nightlife revolving around alcohol in Jeddah, since Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country. What you should be able to find are shisha cafes and a large variety of coffeeshops such as: 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.
- 16hundred, Le château mall (Tahlia St.), ☎ +966.2.2614415. Modern American Steak House 300sr. edit
Outside Hajj season, hotels in Jeddah are generally cheaper than those in Riyadh. The usual international chains are well represented.
- Al-Hamra, Palestine St (easy access to the beach), ☎ +966 2 660 2000 ([email protected], fax: +966 2 6604145). Hotel edit
- Ascott Sari Jeddah, Al Zahra'a District, Sari Street, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, ☎ +966 12 692 6299 ([email protected]), . The property situated centrally in the heart of Jeddah with easy access to multinational companies, fashion boutiques, restaurants and cafes, comes complete with a host of amenities for its guests. edit
- Ascott Tahlia Jeddah, Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz Street, P.O. Box 2840, Jeddah 2146, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, ☎ +966122832322, . checkin: 1400; checkout: 1200. Hotel apartments are located on Tahlia Street. edit
- Citadines Al Salamah Jeddah, Prince Sultan Street, ☎ +96612-6111846 ([email protected]), . From studio to 3-bedroom apartments with separate dining and living areas consist of floor to ceiling windows offering city views. (21.5970213,39.1452815) edit
- Crowne Plaza, Al Corniche, Al Ma'adi Rd, ☎ +966 2 6611000 ([email protected], fax: 966 2 6606326), . checkin: 2 pm; checkout: 3 pm. From 750 S.A.R.. edit
- Intercontinental Jeddah, ☎ +966-2-2295555 ([email protected], fax: +966-2-2295556), . checkin: noon; checkout: 3PM. Luxury resort with all amenities. edit
- Jeddah Marriott, Falasteen Rd, ☎ +966-2-671 4000. Older but well-maintained property. Deep pool but for men only, large gym, good breakfast. The main downsides are the mildly awkward location with little of interest nearby and the poor soundproofing, esp. as there are four mosques nearby. Closed until 2018. edit
- Novotel Jeddah Tahlia Street Hotel, Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz Street, ☎ +966 126090777 ([email protected], fax: +966 126052770), . Resort in city center with roomside views of the sea. edit
- Park Hyatt Jeddah–Marina, Club and Spa Resort, Al Hamra District, Southern Corniche, ☎ +966 2 263 9666 ([email protected]), . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12 noon. 142 rooms and suites with views of the Red Sea, Arab-Andalusian ambiance, walk-in-closet, tea and coffee making facilities. Separate ladies and gents spas and a gentlemen's club. Great views of the Red Sea and King Fahd fountain. This resort is a remarkable engineering feat having reclaimed prime waterfront land from the Red Sea. edit
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Medina Rd (20 minutes from the King Abdul Aziz Int'l Airport), ☎ +966 2 263 0000 ([email protected]), . Health club, Oasis gym, 292 rooms, meeting rooms, free wifi throughout the hotel. edit
- Radisson Blu Royal Suite Hotel, Medina Rd (10 minutes from the King Abdul Aziz Int'l Airport), ☎ +966 2 652 1234 ([email protected]), . Health club, indoor swimming pool, 83 high end suites, three meeting rooms, free internet access. edit
- Rosewood Corniche, ☎ +966 2 257 8888 ([email protected], fax: +966 2 257 8111). Luxury hotel with amazing sea view and amenities. edit
- Sheraton Jeddah Hotel, ☎ +966 2 6992212, . edit
- Waldorf Astoria Jeddah - Qasr Al Sharq, North Corniche Road, ☎ +966-92000-9565 ([email protected], fax: +966-12-659 6666), . The "Palace of the Orient" is Waldorf-Astoria's attempt to create a luxury hotel in Jeddah. Decoration is opulent, and prices are a splurge. Food is primarily Venetian. All amenities can be found. edit
While not as strict as Riyadh, Jeddah still falls under Islamic law. Jeddah is the most modern city in Saudi Arabia. Murder, rape, drug dealing are crimes punishable by death. Anyone caught with Any illegal drugs/alcohol will be persecuted. Make sure not to eat outside during the month of ramadan (the fasting month of muslims). People fast from Sunrise still sunset. Don't approach random women as this is highly discouraged due to the Islmaic tradition, even you want to ask something and need any kind of advice.
Most shopping malls have Internet cafes. Coffee places such as Costa Coffe, StarBucks Coffee, Barnies, Second Cup and many more provide WiFi access to customers.
- Canada, 11F Ali Reza Tower Madinah Rd, ☎ +966 2 653-0597 ([email protected], fax: +966 2 653-0538). Sa-We 8AM–3:30PM. edit
- Greece, Nour El Hayat. plot 187 AL Andalus District, ☎ +966 2 667-4064, Emergencies: +966 5 3067-6885 ([email protected], fax: +966 2 656-228). edit
- United States, Falasteen Rd, Al-Ruwais District, ☎ +966 2 667-0080, . edit
Riyadh - The capital of Saudi Arabia
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