The undisputed commercial capital of Saudi Arabia, Jeddah is not only known for food and shopping but also for its warm hospitality
Not only the oldest but the second largest city in the Kingdom, Jeddah, when literally translated means “grandmother”. Spread along the coast of the Red Sea and connected by the Corniche which is nearly 30kms long, Jeddah is one of the country’s most liberal and cosmopolitan of destinations. Whether you are taking a stroll down by the seaside or smoking shisha in one of the many cafes, you will find that Jeddah has a very laid-back and relaxed feel. With a major foreign influence, it comes as no surprise that Jeddah offers a wealth of lavish shopping and dining opportunities.
There are a whole bunch of activities to do while you are in Jeddah, whether you are visiting the city with family or friends. Children can never get bored as Jeddah has a variety of theme parks like Atallah Happy Land Park or Al-Shallal, which has everything from a double looped roller coaster to an Olympic-sized ice rink. Apart from theme parks, scuba diving is a favourite activity not just for Saudis but for expats as well. Desert Sea Divers in Obhur which is about 40km north of Jeddah is the oldest and largest diving spot. If you are interested to spend the holidays on the coast, then there are a whole lot of private beaches at Durrat-ul-Arous, Desert Sea Divers, Al-Nakil, Salhia etc.
One of the biggest and most famous marketplaces in Jeddah is Al-Balad (Old Town) within which you will find an array of ancient buildings which house tiny markets offering the latest gadgets, clothes and shoes. If you are looking for a more modern shopping experience, it wouldn’t be too hard to find. The city is packed to the brim with extravagant malls like Aziz Mall,Tahliya Mall, Mall of Arabia, Andalus mall etc.
If you are looking for a nightlife that revolves around alcohol, then you would be highly disappointed. What Jeddah really offers is shisha cafes, lounges and internationally recognised, coffee houses like Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Barnies.
HOW TO GET THERE
One of the main carriers is the Saudi Arabian Airlines which offers to and fro flights to Jeddah directly from Hyderabad. Other airlines include Air India and Jet Airways.
You could either choose to stay in a hotel or in furnished apartments which are easily available.
- Westin Jeddah Hotel
- Ramada Continental
- Jeddah Hilton Hotel
- Holiday Inn Jeddah
Jeddah boasts of some of the world’s best cuisines and also has most of the American Fast Food franchises like Subway, Applebees, Chillies,Tony Roma’s and Burger King. The most popular of them all, however, is Al-Baik which serves the best crispy-fried chicken in the world! Shawarma is also quite popular. It is chicken/lamb/beef with garlic sauce wrapped in pita bread.
You could move around the city in taxis or limousines that charge about SR 10-20 and about SR50 to farther destinations. You also have the option of renting out cars at the price of SR 100-150 depending on the kind of car you choose. Certain rules may apply.
BEST MONTHS TO TRAVEL IN
December to April
Things to keep in mind
- The Religious Police, or muttawas, do not allow for public displays of religion by non-Muslims. Do not wear any religious symbols or icons, this may find you behind bars.
- Foreign men do not have to conform to special attire, but those visitors with long hair should expect to attract unwanted attention.
- Insulting the royal family or the king can result in a death penalty. Severe restrictions apply to women including being prohibited from driving, and foreign females are expected to abide by the same rules.
- All women (foreign or national) are required to wear an abaya (a long black robe) or a headscarf. The wearing of these items will minimise the amount of harassment you get from the muttawas (religious police).
- All businesses close for prayer for about half an hour at noon and at sunset.
How to obtain a visa into Jeddah
Hajj visas are only available during the month of Hajj but Umrah visas are available all year round. Tourists may need to check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website at www.mofa.gov.sa for guidelines when applying for a visa and the form needs to be filled out in Arabic. However, non-muslims are not allowed in the cities of Makkah and Madinah which are considered as the holy cities by Muslims.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Desperately in search of inner peace. Loves traveling. Will write for money. Picky with food but loves her pastas and South-Indian thalis. Highly entertaining. Loves watching gossipy TV shows and good looking vampires. Would like to be abducted by aliens, at least once. Also I am not fat, I am just big-boned