Jeddah's historic district to become an open-air museum

1 / 6
A Saudi man is pictured in the old town of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in this file photo. (Reuters)
2 / 6
A boy sits in the old town of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in this file photo. (Reuters)
3 / 6
Saudi men play checkers in the old town of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in this photo taken on June 22, 2018. (REUTERS)
4 / 6
A file photo of Old Jeddah. (
5 / 6
A picture from the Old Jeddah festival. (SPA)
6 / 6
A picture from the Old Jeddah festival. (SPA)
Updated 08 December 2018

Jeddah's historic district to become an open-air museum

  • The ministry announced the new project saying it would tackle several issues that have led to a decline in tourism at the site

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture plans to transform Jeddah’s old city into an open-air museum of sorts by creating a pedestrian route across the area.

The ministry announced that the new development project currently being implemented would tackle several issues, including the removal of a tunnel, in an attempt to revive tourism in the area.

Traffic rerouting would make the historic buildings, mosques and markets stand out by creating an uninterrupted historic space that can be enjoyed by pedestrians, according to Abdulaziz Al-Issa, an area supervisor.

He said the area around the site, known famously as Al-Balad, would "undergo world-class renovation in order to preserve the area’s distinct architecture," adding that the area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2014.

Jeddah’s historic area, which dates as far back to the 7th century, was the city center until the 1970s and 1980s, when the country’s oil boom encouraged local families that had lived there for centuries to move north of the city in search of more prosperous and modernized living standards. Preservation efforts, now partially financed by several of these families, have been ongoing since that time.

The area, also known as the “gateway to Makkah” thanks to its proximity to the seaside, has had its fair share of challenges and obstacles. A fire that broke out last year damaged several buildings, three of which completely collapsed.

Preservation efforts were sometimes hampered by the narrowness of the alleyways between the houses, which was another reason why families rushed to move out in favor of larger, more modern dwellings. Most of the ancient walls that surround the town and market have long since disappeared thanks to adverse weather conditions. The old buildings, which boast distinct hand-carved doors and windows, are also in need of constant renovation thanks to the humidity eroding the walls. Paradoxically, authorities stipulate that the walls be renovated only with Red Sea mud and coral limestone to retain the distinct character of the buildings.

The area was nominated by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage to earn UNESCO status back in 2009. Jeddah’s municipality founded the Historical Preservation Society in 1991 and has since consecrated millions of dollars towards renovation efforts. Though many of the houses are still owned by Jeddah’s most prominent families, the government bought and restored several properties, including the famous Shafi mosque and the house in which Saudi Arabia’s founding father, Abdulaziz Al-Saud, resided when visiting the port city.


Single-day ticket options for day one & two of Formula E festival now available

Updated 11 December 2018

Single-day ticket options for day one & two of Formula E festival now available

  • Single-day concert tickets available for $87.95 (330 SAR)
  • Three-day tickets to see all six acts available for $253.19 (950 SAR)

RIYADH: Single-day tickets for day one and two of the Formula E festival of fun surrounding the ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix are now available for the biggest line-up of sport, live music, entertainment and cultural activities ever staged in Saudi Arabia. Single-day tickets are available on their website  for $87.95 (330 SAR), with three-day tickets starting at $253.19 (950 SAR)

Doors open at 4 PM on December 13th with access to entertainment and cultural attractions, plus unique dining and retail experiences for Formula E ticket holders at Ad Diriyah. Jason Derulo and headliner Enrique Iglesias take to the stage on day one, while on day two, Amr Diab and headline act The Black Eyed Peas will perform. The finale performance on day three will be a double-header concert given by David Guetta and OneRepublic.

Three-day tickets will allow fans to catch all the days of entertainment, including the complimentary concerts for Formula E ticket holders.

Fans from the Kingdom will be joined by international tourists from around the world, and the Gulf, at the event, with 30-day tourist visas available for the first time via new the online Sharek process.

More information about ‘Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix’, including schedule and tickets, can be found on their website.