Rawashin, the distinctive style of heritage buildings in Jeddah


Published — Saturday 10 November 2012

Last update 10 November 2012 4:06 am

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A distinctive feature of old buildings in the historical district in Jeddah is the “rawashin,”or projecting latticed windows adorned with intricate wood works.
Rawashin, a kind of bay windows or oriels that give a markedly different look for the Hejazi architecture making the building different from the Najdi style.
Jeddah being the gate way to the Holy City of Makkah has been serving over the many centuries as the meeting point of various Muslim cultures notably of Arabs, Ottomans and Persians and helped to emerge as a blend of these cultures over centuries.
However the popularity of western architectural style and the difficulty to find experts in the classical Jeddah style are some of the reasons that made the style gradually disappear.
Only an expert of exquisite taste and vast experience can undertake the intricate wood-woks, skylights and jalousies of the old style.
However efforts are being made to preserve the style with special training program in the art of rawashin wood works.
President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) Prince Sultan bin Salman has been interested in preserving the Hijazi architectural style since 25 years even before he became SCTA chief, and used to appeal to local people and establishments to play their role to preserve the heritage features of the old buildings in Jeddah, said Executive Director of the SCTA in the Makkah province Muhammad Al-Amri.
Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Fasial also has been stressing the need to protect the Hijazi architecture.
As a result, a number of Saudi youths are currently receiving training on the Hijazi construction style including the art of the rawashin making.
The word rawashin, plural of roshan, is originated from a Persian word meaning an elevated window which lets in plenty of light.

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