Old or rebuilt? city gate

With Jeddah, we had reached the coast of the Red Sea after crossing all of Saudi Arabia, which is 8 times as big as Germany. On the way down the mountains from Taif, we had passed Makkah (Mecca) which we had to circumnavigate as non-Muslims. We are not allowed to enter the city, not even to drive through.

Restored house of the old town

Jeddah gained importance as the gateway for millions of pilgrims who arrive every year in Saudi Arabia, traditionally by sea and nowadays by air, to visit the holy mosques of Mekkah and Medinah on their Hajj.

The old part or Al-Balad with its traditional multi-storey buildings and merchant houses, that often still belong to the families that inhabited them before the oil-era, has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2014. In 2019, the Saudi crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman, has issued a royal decree to restore 50 historical buildings in Jeddah. They are still working on that.

We found some “restored” houses, they actually looked more like rebuilt. The old houses mostly were fenced in, probably an indication that renovations are intended. We think, that the old houses have much more allure than the restored ones, but of course renovation is urgent, otherwise they will crumble away. Hopefully this place will keep its charm nonetheless.

After we had strolled through Al-Balad, we drove to the Corniche to admire the highest fountain in the world, with water skyrocketing up to 312 metres. It was built already in the 1980s and can be seen from a great distance. There was also the tallest flagpole in Jeddah, by the way. Looks like somebody opened up the Guinness Book of World Records and chose what ever they wanted to top. But the tallest flagpole stands now in Cairo.

Camping at the sea, in front of the flagpole (without flag)
Jeddah fountain at dusk

Tomorrow, we will make our way through the traffic of Jeddah to drive north along the coast and finally inland to reach famous Al Ula.

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