RIYADH: Major areas in Jeddah’s historic Al-Balad district are being reorganized as part of a strategy to ease movement by the Saudi Ministry of Culture.
The ministry has started implementing the first phase of the program to control traffic and pedestrians in a number of streets in the district.
Authorities plan to give Jeddah’s old city the feeling of an open-air museum by creating a pedestrian route across the area.
Represented in the Bab Makkah — or Makkah Gate — area, the new system aims to facilitate the flow of pedestrian and car movement while preventing street vendors and pedestrians who violate regulations from entering the area.
Locations for loading and unloading goods for shops in the area have been allocated in front of the main entrance to Al-Falah Schools and Al-Mazloum empty lot.
The road passing through the middle of Bab Makkah will have monitoring checkpoints at entrances and exits to prevent violating vehicles from reversing.
The regulations also oblige vehicles to park according to traffic instructions in longitudinal and parallel parking, while preventing double parking.
In addition, the regulations will allocate safe places for pedestrian paths and golf carts in the area by placing iron barriers to separate the movement of cars and pedestrians.
Traffic rerouting will make the historic buildings, mosques and markets stand out by creating an uninterrupted historic space that can be enjoyed by pedestrians.
Jeddah’s historic district, known as Al-Balad, was placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2014.
Founded in the seventh century A.D., Al-Balad once served as a center of trade and commerce in Jeddah. But most of the ancient walls that surrounded the town, and the souq within, were torn down in time.
There are more than 450 buildings within the walls of the city, 56 of which are in urgent need of repair.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pledged SR50 million ($13.3 million) to support the restoration of the buildings as they represent a major part of the Kingdom’s ancient heritage and are part of a significant tourist site.