Jeddah Corniche: Over 100km of fun!

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Updated 22 January 2013

Jeddah Corniche: Over 100km of fun!

Jeddah is located in the center of the western Saudi Arabia’s coast along the beautiful beaches of the Red Sea — hence its nickname the “Bride of the Red Sea”.
If anyone visits Jeddah, he or she should never leave without visiting the Corniche, where most recreational facilities for sports, enjoyment, and tourism are available.
The Jeddah Corniche — divided into the southern, central, and northern corniche — stretches almost 110 kilometers, with plenty of international hotels, restaurants, amusement parks, places for fishing, picnic areas, a science museum, and mosques. But most importantly, it has the famous King Fahd Fountain, also known as the Jeddah Fountain, which has become the symbol of Jeddah.
This beautiful fountain — the tallest in the world — was a gift from the late King Fahd. The 312-meter high fountain is located near the coast of Jeddah and can be seen from all over the city. It is even higher than the Eiffel Tower!
Along the Southern Corniche, we find a number of beautiful monuments and memorable objects, from 26 bronze sculptures made by world famous artists in front of the Al-Hamra beach to restaurants, hotels, famous fast-food chains, as well as Al-Hamra Mall.
The adopted design of the Corniche adds an artistic touch all along by placing sculptures and other artwork at roundabouts and on streets running alongside the Corniche. Most sculptures and artworks can be found along the northern and central parts of the Corniche. Jeddah is worldwide renowned for housing the largest number of sculptures and artworks by famous international artists such as Moore, Arp, and Miró.
At the moment, because of the Corniche refurbishing program, the sculptures area between Al-Hamra Mall and Hassan Enany Mosque is closed, as restoration work is going on. It will reopen very soon, providing a beautiful picnic location to enjoy nature. A sculpture museum has also been planned.
Hassan Enany Mosque is a very prominent mosque located along the Central Corniche near Palestine Street. It was built in 1984 by the architect Raouf Helmi and commissioned by Hassan Enany. It has a capacity of 1,200 worshippers in an unusual prayer hall covered by an octagonal golden dome.
The Northern Corniche is a strip that extends from the Coast Guard building to Fatima Al-Zahra Mosque, also known as the floating mosque. The Northern Corniche is made up of three routes — each one travels in both directions — that create artificial lakes along the roads and stretch toward the sea.
The Corniche is lined up with numerous facilities and services, such as playgrounds, amusement parks, lush landscape, and spacious paved areas, as well as many shaded seating, walking and jogging areas for families to enjoy the ocean view.
The new Corniche, starting from the Tahlia garden intersection of the Northern Corniche near the Desalination Plant to Faqih Mosque, has been completed with landscaping, pedestrian paths, public toilets within walking distance, and parking lots with internal roads. Numerous types of foliage, saplings, and green grounds have also been planted.
The new area has been refurbished according to international standards. New swings, challenging sports activities, slopes, monkey bars, shaded areas, grass gardens, tiled pavement, sitting areas, and benches — almost all facilities are available for family fun and a picnic.
The municipality plans to refurbish all parts of the Corniche to enhance local and international tourism. In the new Corniche, barbequing is not allowed, but visitors can still enjoy the barbeque at the sea front in the Northern Corniche.
Some areas between Faqih Mosque and Fatima Al-Zahra Mosque are still under refurbishment, but most areas are open for sitting at the seaside and have landscape, pedestrian paths, and parking lots with internal roads.
Another beautiful mosque is the Island Mosque with its simple and stunning white architecture, which turned into peach and cream shade with time. It was built in 1988 on a tiny island just off the Northern Jeddah Corniche. It is one of the four mosques built on or near the water. The other mosque of the Red Sea is the Corniche Mosque. The powerful classical silhouette of this mosque proclaims to all the presence of Islam.
This building reflects the architecture of traditional Egyptian mosques. The entire structure consists of bricks coated with plaster except for the dome. In the interior, the bricks are exposed and painted in a dark bronze color. The prayer hall itself is at the center of a composition that includes the mihrab, projecting outward from the eastern wall just below an oculus, an entrance porch covered by a catenaries vault, and a square-based minaret with an octagonal shaft.
Other things to see on this road are the lakes as well as the water roundabout with Arabic calligraphy. Along the Northern Corniche, visitors will find a number of restaurants with seating areas. When the blazing sun becomes too much visitors can enjoy themselves at the water parks of Sail Island, Green Island, Nawrus Restaurant and others while enjoying the pool and recreation facilities for adults and children.
The most visited mosque along the Red Sea coastline of Jeddah is Fatima Al-Zahra. It is famous by its nickname, the “Floating Mosque”. It is actually built in the sea and at high tide it seems to be floating in the water, like the floating mosque in Penang, Malaysia.
Another fascinating place is Atallah Happy Land Park, with rides for adults and children. It is an amusement park with indoor and outdoor rides and attractions, ice-skating and bowling, dining and shopping, and a 6D theater.
If you want to enjoy a roller coaster ride, you can visit Al-Shalal — Arabic for waterfall — Theme Park, which also features an ice-skating rink and theme area, and the Amazon ride with a jungle theme, complete with life-sized figures of animals, light and sound effects.
The park has a lagoon and 15-m high waterfall with many rides as well as a pirates ship, the largest merry-go-round, seven restaurants, party rooms, a theater, and a games arcade. The park also has a large number of retail outlets for souvenirs and soft toys for children.
The sea front is also the best place for visitors to spend time. Many people like to do fishing, while others enjoy horse riding, bicycling, and motorcycling. But for such rides there are special places allocated along the Southern Al-Hamra Corniche, as visitors are not allowed to do it anywhere for safety and security reasons.
Other than that, you can enjoy a boat ride on the open Red Sea with family and friends. Such facilities can be found on the Northern Obhur Corniche, where a number of boats and yachts are available for rent on an hourly or daily basis. Some are fishing boats, while others have been turned into floating restaurants.
In this area, jet skis are also available for youth, in addition to many resorts for families to enjoy swimming and picnicking.

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Hottest tourist destination in the Kingdom described as the Saudi Maldives

Updated 07 August 2020

Hottest tourist destination in the Kingdom described as the Saudi Maldives

  • Variety of coral reefs and serene white sands make Umluj a must-see Red Sea coast destination for divers

JEDDAH: With serene white sands, deep blue waters and hidden coral reefs, one Saudi Arabian governorate on the Red Sea coast has become this summer’s hottest destination.

The hidden gem of Umluj gained wide recognition as a tourist destination when domestic travel became highly recommended due to the continued suspension of international flights. Visitors never imagined the Kingdom was home to such a unique destination, boasting both beaches and mountains.

Khalid Khayat, owner of the Royal Tours camp at Umluj, said that the area had actually been known for a long time as one of the best beaches in Saudi Arabia, but it was only when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited and announced the Red Sea Project that it gained global recognition.

“There are 99 islands with beautiful sandy beaches. People call it the Saudi Maldives,” Khayat told Arab News.

Captivating sunset at Umluj. (Social media photo)

“When the crown prince announced the initiation of the Red Sea Project in 2017 and developed the construction plan in Umluj, the world discovered the name and the site,” he said.

What distinguishes Umluj from other beaches in the Kingdom is its variety of coral reefs, which make it a must-see for divers.

“You rarely find reefs in such a variety of colors, shapes and sizes like those at Umluj. Honestly, it’s like diving into paradise,” said Khayat.

Umluj is also an ideal destination for hikers and mountain climbers.

“Less than an hour’s drive outside of the city, you have mountains, where you can go hiking or sightseeing. With volcanos to the east and beaches to the west, Umluj boasts a combination of natural features that is rarely found elsewhere,” Khayat added.

Umluj is like a mesmerizing painting. Its over 100, picturesque islands, with their palm trees, soft white sand, crystal clear waters, and abundant, diverse marine life, are a photographer’s dream — and it’s right in our backyard. The islands have kindled my enthusiasm as a photographer and a nature lover and moved me to pack my bags and head to the heart of this enchanting place to discover its beauty for myself. I also want to have a hand in promoting local tourism through beautiful images.

Huda Bashatah, Arab News photographer

Aalia Fathima, 29, who is currently visiting Umluj with her husband, said: “We have been looking for different places in Saudi Arabia to visit on the Eid holiday, and we came across Umluj. I could hardly hide how excited I was to see the location! The sand is as soft as cotton, and the water is crystal clear.”

She added: “There are so many species of crab and beautiful shells that dot the beaches. We enjoyed it greatly.”

In addition to being enchanted by the site’s natural beauty, Fathima was impressed by the kindness of the local people.

“Being here, away from the sounds of the big city, was lovely,” she said.

Khayat said that ever since the announcement of the Red Sea Project, the number of visitors to Ulmuj has increased from hundreds to a thousand per week. Royal Tours receive 40 to 45 guests a day. 

Umluj boasts of a variety of coral reefs, which make it a must-see for divers. (Social media photo)

He said the number of international visitors sometimes exceeds the number of Saudi visitors, with some traveling from the other end of the world only to visit the volcano sites at Umluj.

“I received people about nine months ago who had come all the way from New York to Jeddah airport. They waited a few hours and took a flight to Yanbu, then drove all the way to Umluj just to see the volcanos. One was a lady from the US who had never been to Saudi Arabia before. She got a tourist visa just to come to Umluj,” Khayat said.

Paris Verra, 25 and from the US, has been a resident in Saudi Arabia for almost two years and has been to Umluj twice.

“I kept seeing photos of Umluj and hearing people say it looked like the Maldives. I was so curious to see what it looked like in person. I knew a few friends who were going there, so at the last minute I decided to go, and I couldn’t believe that this water was in Saudi Arabia,” she said.

“I am surprised at how untouched this place is. I have traveled the world, and it is very difficult to find somewhere that is so pristine and that has not been damaged. Umluj had the most beautiful reefs I had ever seen,” she added, joking that if she could live in Umluj, she would.