Jeddah, a Saudi Arabian port city on the Red Sea, is a modern commercial hub and gateway for pilgrimages to the Islamic holy cities Mecca and Medina.
Resort hotels, beaches and outdoor sculptures line the Corniche, a seafront promenade anchored by the iconic King Fahd’s Fountain. The city’s Al-Balad historic district dates to the 7th century and retains traditional homes built from coral.
Where ancient and modern meet
Over the years, no Saudi city has been more open to outside influencers such as traders, international artists and Makkah-bound pilgrims than the ancient port of Jeddah. Indeed, the city’s unofficial motto is “Jeddah ghair,” or “Jeddah’s different.” Today, Jeddah is Saudi Arabia’s buzzing cosmopolitan hub, home to gleaming hotels and big-ticket events like the Red Sea International Film Festival, which takes place in late winter. The city’s heart is still intact in Al Balad, the magical historical quarter that has undergone a renaissance in recent years. And the Red Sea is still central to it all — for trade, for diving among pristine reefs, and for fishing for Jeddah’s legendary seafood. The city where Eve was laid to rest (according to local lore) is a beguiling mix of old and new, and one that remains gloriously different.