In the heart of Jeddah lies Al Balad, the historic market area that is an absolute must-see on any visit to Jeddah. It houses the oldest buildings located in Jeddah, some of the few remnants of Hijazi culture left over from the capture of the city by Saudi Arabia's first king, Abdulaziz.
|Al Balad is an expansive souk with both open-air shops and stalls within long buildings like this one|
Al Balad is well-lit and feasible as a tourist day or night. You will however see a marked difference in the place depending on the time of day you visit. The shops are known to sell things at much lower prices than brick and mortar stores of the city, so the area is frequented by poor or low-class immigrant /expatriate workers, but even more so in the evening. In the evenings, the place is incredibly crowded and the intriguing architecture, save for the mosques, are unlit and hidden from view, so I recommend you visit during the day.
What You'll Find Here
|This man has been selling prayer beads in a stall in Al Balad for 38 years. He also gave us each a set of beads of our choice. I chose a simple, amber-scented set.|
|There are few women shopping in Al Balad|
|My favorite mosque picture from Al Balad|
|During the call to prayer you hear a symphony (or cacophony, depending on your point of view) of many muezzin from all of the surrounding mosques calling the believers.|
|Salesman in a spice shop|
|Piles of spices|
|Dates! The best kind are Medina dates, which are usually packaged and pricey|
|Dresses for sale in a stall|
|The wood on these old buildings is rotting, and nothing is being done about it at all|
|An old water fountain. Wealthier families would have these installed in the street as a public service for all to utilize.|
Nasseef is the oldest home in Jeddah. It was owned by a local merchant until Jeddah was taken by king Abdulaziz and his army, when the king took it over for himself. It then served as a library and is now a museum that is usually open to the public, but was unfortunately closed the day I was by. The house used to just be known as "the house with the tree" since keeping a tree in blazing Saudi Arabia is pretty difficult and few homes had them.
|Nasseef House in Al Balad|