ThePlace: Al-Balad, Jeddah's historical heart

The area is famed for its distinctive architecture. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 16 October 2018

ThePlace: Al-Balad, Jeddah's historical heart

  • Al-Balad is also known as Old Jeddah and is the city's historical heart
  • Old Jeddah wall and its historical open squares such as Al-Mazloom, Al-Sham, Al-Yemen and Al-Bahr Haras are all part of Al-Balad

Al-Balad, otherwise known as Historical Old Jeddah, downtown Jeddah and the Gate to Makkah, is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. Locals and non-locals enjoy walking down the old alleys and admiring the remnants of old Hejaz, making it a favorite tourist attraction in the city. 

The houses are made of recti ed stones, mined from Arabia Lake, positioned in place by size and separated by wooden planks to alleviate the heat of the area’s climate. One of its infamous sights, garnering attention from tourists’ all around the world is Nassif House. 

According to Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) sources, its existence may date back to the era before Islam. Some of the buildings are 400 years old. 

Old Jeddah includes a number of monuments and heritage buildings such as the Old Jeddah wall and its historical open squares such as Al-Mazloom, Al-Sham, Al-Yemen and Al-Bahr Haras. The Old Jeddah wall was built to fortify the city from attacks initiated by the Portuguese coming in from the Red Sea, but it was torn down in the 1940s due to urbanization. 

The area is also home to historic mosques such as Othman bin A an Mosque, Al- Shafe’i Mosque, Al-Basha Mosque, Akkash Mosque, Al-Mi’maar Mosque and Al-Hana Mosque. 

Souk Al-Nada is in the historic downtown area and is the most popular traditional market in Jeddah. It was established more than 150 years ago, and what distinguishes it from the rest is that it o ers all sorts of traditional dishes and fresh ingredients and commodities. Nowadays, Al-Balad gets pack-jammed during Ramadan due to its wondrous stalls and cultural festivals that brim with nostalgic themes and a yearning to the past. 


Recent archaeological discoveries highlight Saudi Arabia as ‘a cradle of human civilizations,’ Rome conference told

Updated 06 December 2019

Recent archaeological discoveries highlight Saudi Arabia as ‘a cradle of human civilizations,’ Rome conference told

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has become a leader in the field of archaeological research in the past five years, a major exhibition in Rome was told.

Abdullah Al-Zahrani, director-general of archaeological research and studies at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, said that 44 international archaeological missions had been carried out this year in the Kingdom.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the “Roads of Arabia: Masterpieces of Antiquities in Saudi Arabia Across the Ages” exhibition, which opened at the National Museum of Rome on Nov. 26.

The groundbreaking exhibition was inaugurated by Saudi Minister of Culture Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan and Italian Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities Dario Franceschini.

Al-Zahrani said that the Kingdom “has become one of the most advanced countries in terms of archaeological disclosures.”

“Recent discoveries by local and international missions have highlighted the Kingdom’s historical status and cultural depth as the cradle of the beginnings of human civilizations,” he said.

Archaeological discoveries continue to “instil the civilized dimension of the Kingdom,” he said.

“The religious, political, economic and cultural stature that Saudi Arabia enjoys is an extension of its long cultural heritage, in addition to its distinctive geographical position as a bridge and hub of cultural interaction between East and West that made it a meeting point for international land and sea trade routes throughout all ages,” he added.