US Consulate in Jeddah Moving to New Location

Maha Akeel, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Mon, 2007-08-13 03:00

JEDDAH, 13 August 2007 — The US Consulate in Jeddah is to be relocated within two to three years at a new site on the corner of King Road (Al-Malik Road) and Sari Street. Work is currently under way to prepare the new location, which will also serve as the consul general’s residence.

According to a press release posted on the consulate’s website, the newly appointed US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ford M. Fraker visited the new site on May 20 accompanied by Consul General Tatiana C. Gfoeller. The press release, however, did not identify the location.

“The visit follows a recent agreement approved by the Government of Saudi Arabia to purchase land for the new Consulate General compound. Construction for the new facilities will begin later in 2007 and is expected to be completed in 2009,” the statement said.

The current US Consulate on Palestine Street has been a security concern since the Al-Qaeda network launched a terrorist attack on it on Dec. 6, 2004. Five heavily armed Saudis attacked the consulate shooting their way inside through a side entrance on Hail Street.

The attackers burned down a temporary structure housing US Marines and killed five non-American staff. Saudi Special Forces killed three of the attackers and captured the other two, who were wounded. One of them died later.

The terrorists did not manage to breach the main consular building but they were reported to have fired repeatedly at its bulletproof glass doors. When the consulate reopened two months after the attack, steel doors were placed in front of the glass doors and additional concrete barriers were placed on Hail Street. More security measures were also put in place.

The visa section of the consulate closed again “for administrative reasons until further notice” on Nov. 12, 2005, forcing Western Region residents applying for a US visa to travel to Riyadh.

The consulate was again attacked on May 12, 2006, but this time the Ministry of Interior said that the lone gunman responsible for the drive-by shooting, which only injured a guard, was a psychiatric patient and not linked to any group.

The consulate’s location on Palestine Street served as the US Embassy from 1952 until the embassy’s transfer to Riyadh in 1984. At that time, the quiet neighborhood was considered to be on the outskirts of Jeddah. As the city expanded more residents moved into the area, which became a center of commercial and leisure activities with heavy traffic.

The consulate is located across one of Jeddah’s largest hospitals, Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital, making the neighborhood even more congested.

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