Travel back in time at Jeddah’s cultural and heritage cafe

Cafe Magad is home to precious and rare historical antiques where tourists feel a strong sense of connection with historic Jeddah. (AN photos by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 28 May 2018
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Travel back in time at Jeddah’s cultural and heritage cafe

  • The people of the historic area still hold their values and Ramadan traditions
  • Tourists can learn about the historical area over a cup of coffee

JEDDAH: Historic Jeddah is home to Cafe Magad, the cultural and heritage cafe. It holds many hidden treasures of the historical area. The owner and historical consultant Mazen Al-Saqaf explained how the cafe surfaced.

“It was created for visitors and tourists at the historical area of the city of Jeddah.
“Before we created the cafe, we looked at what visitors and tourists needed there, and we found that there was no restful place. Therefore we created a cafe that resembled the sitting rooms and salons in the old houses,” Al-Saqaf told Arab News.
Tourists can learn about the historical area over a cup of coffee, he said.
“It includes a small library that has books on historic Jeddah in Arabic, English and French, for tourists.”
It is also a popular destination among intellectuals and scholars. “Many historians, thinkers and literary scholars are quite fond of this cafe. They enjoy visiting it and writing about historic Jeddah,” Al-Saqaf said.
“I help historians who are writing about historic Jeddah. If anyone has a scientific paper on it, we assist them with rare photographs, rare documents, and rare books and sources,” he added.
“On the walls, you have old photographs of historic Jeddah. Visitors and tourists can see how the historic area was and how it is now. There are photographs of embassies: The American Embassy, the British Embassy, the French Embassy. When tourists visit, they can see their embassies. They used to be in these historic houses. There are also photographs of the Dutch Embassy and the Italian Embassy.
“And tourists feel some sort of connection between their history and historic Jeddah,” Al-Saqaf told Arab News.
The cafe is also home to precious and rare historical antiques.
“It holds rare antiques of historic Jeddah. For example, here we have a rare manuscript from the Mamluk period. It is from the year 800 H., and a telephone of King Farouk of Egypt, and a document of the first cheque in the Arabian Peninsula,” said Al-Saqaf.
“Every Saturday we hold a literary night, for historians, scholars and thinkers. We also have musical nights. We do all this to attract visitors from outside the historic area. We are contributing to enriching tourism,” Al-Saqaf told Arab News.
He explained that the cafe is relatively new, but the building is not: “The cafe is three years old, the building is over 400 years old.”
The people of the historic area still hold their values and Ramadan traditions.
“They gather here at the cultural and heritage cafe as one family. Each person brings a dish, and we experience Ramadan like the old days,” Al-Saqaf told Arab News.


What We Are Reading Today: American Bonds by Sarah L. Quinn

Updated 26 June 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: American Bonds by Sarah L. Quinn

  • American Bonds examines the evolution of securitization and federal credit programs

Federal housing finance policy and mortgage-backed securities have gained widespread attention in recent years because of the 2008 financial crisis, but issues of government credit have been part of American life since the nation’s founding. 

From the 1780s, when a watershed national land credit policy was established, to the postwar foundations of our current housing finance system, American Bonds examines the evolution of securitization and federal credit programs. Sarah Quinn shows that since the Westward expansion, the US government has used financial markets to manage America’s complex social divides, and politicians and officials across the political spectrum have turned to land sales, home ownership, and credit to provide economic opportunity without the appearance of market intervention or direct wealth redistribution.

Highly technical systems, securitization, and credit programs have been fundamental to how Americans determined what they could and should owe one another. 

Over time, government officials embraced credit as a political tool that allowed them to navigate an increasingly complex and fractured political system, affirming the government’s role as a consequential and creative market participant. Neither intermittent nor marginal, credit programs supported the growth of powerful industries, from railroads and farms to housing and finance; have been used for disaster relief, foreign policy, and military efforts; and were promoters of amortized mortgages, lending abroad, venture capital investment, and mortgage securitization. Illuminating America’s market-heavy social policies, American Bonds illustrates how political institutions became involved in the nation’s lending practices.