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

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A Saudi man is pictured in the old town of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in this file photo. (Reuters)
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A boy sits in the old town of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in this file photo. (Reuters)
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Saudi men play checkers in the old town of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in this photo taken on June 22, 2018. (REUTERS)
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A file photo of Old Jeddah. (
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A picture from the Old Jeddah festival. (SPA)
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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.


Saudi health minister promises to procure tested vaccine

Saudi Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah. (AP)
Updated 20 October 2020

Saudi health minister promises to procure tested vaccine

  • COVID-19 cases continue to decline in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Saudi Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah on Monday said the Kingdom will procure vaccine for the novel coronavirus once it is confirmed to be safe and effective.

He said research on the vaccine is underway in a number of countries and the Saudi health authorities are following the developments.
The number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continues to decline in the Kingdom with the recovery rate from the illness rising to 96 percent. The minister attributed the decline on the “commitment to health precautions.”
“I also thank my fellow health practitioners for their wonderful efforts,” Al-Rabiah said.
Commenting on the second and stronger wave of COVID-19 in some countries, he said it was due to a lack of “commitment to social distancing” and failure to wear masks and taking other precautions.
He ruled out any leniency on part of the government in its fight against the virus. The minister said it is necessary to abide by precautionary measures to keep the virus at bay.


• Saudi Arabia recorded 381 new infections on Monday.

• With 16 new fatalities, the virus-related death toll has risen to 5,201.

“We (all) are in one boat, and the failure of some affects everyone, so we must work together” to check the spread of the virus.
He also advised people who show COVID-19 symptoms to visit Tetamman (rest assured) clinics.
“Appointments can be made through the ministry’s Sehaty app, and anyone who has any questions or wants to consult a doctor can call 937,” the minister said.
Saudi Arabia recorded 381 new infections on Monday. The total number of COVID-19 cases has reached 348,583 since the beginning of the outbreak in the Kingdom.
The Health Ministry said 16 more people died due to complications caused by the virus raising the death toll to 5,201. The ministry also reported 357 new recoveries. The total number of recovered cases has now increased to 328,895.