On Tuesday, November 21st, TV5MONDE premiered a new episode of the Embarquement TV series showcasing the historical beauty of Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia.
Viewers will embark on a journey to discover the historical quarters of the city, the stone walkways with its well-preserved sidewalks, the antique balustrades, the balconies, the traditional music, and more.
A UNESCO world heritage site since 2014, Jeddah has attracted artists, thinkers, and visitors from every corner of the world since records were kept.António Buscardini, TV Director
There is so much to experience in this destination. A blissful palette of colors during sunset by the Red Sea before the adventure continues underwater with coral reefs full of life and surprises. Dive into this new episode and learn about all that Jeddah has to offer.
The Kingdom’s second-largest city, Jeddah means ‘grandmother’ in Arabic. Centuries ago, trade on the legendary Indian Ocean spice routes passed through the city, and goods destined for Mecca came in via Jeddah. It was the port of arrival for pilgrims traveling by sea. This dual role led to the development of its historic center in the 7th century, known as Al-Balad, which is the historical part of the city.
The area has street names such as Al-Hard, which means tumeric. Several spices from all over the world, especially from India, came to Jeddah via the Silk Road. They were transported, either by caravan along the Arab world, or by ship to other remote destinations. Aniseed, for instance, is an integral part of Saudi cuisine, which has been influenced by all the pilgrims who came to the city in the past and left their mark on the local gastronomy.
One of the signature traits of this area in Jeddah is its particular style of windows or rawashins, which are built with wood brought from India, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Each house has its own personal touch; nothing is the same, neither doors nor rawashins.
There are three main colors for rawashins: the natural brown, which is the most common; green, which started to be widely used since 1932, after the unification of Arabia, as people liked the idea of green as the symbol of peace, prosperity; blue, after the belief that one of the mayors went to one of the Mediterranean cities and liked the color so much he gave people permission to paint their houses blue.
3. Hayy Jameel Cultural Center
Opening in 2021, the Hayy Jameel Cultural Center reflects the Jameel Foundation’s commitment to supporting artists, creative communities and placing Jeddah at the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s cultural scene. In Arabic ‘Hayy’ means neighborhood. One of the Center’s main goals was to bring together, under one roof, the different cultural and creative industries in the city.
Spanning an area of 17,000 m2, the Cultural Center has a museum section where art galleries host a year-round rotation of exhibitions. There is also the kingdom’s first independent cinema, the ‘Hayy cinéma’, which is is dedicated to Arts and Documentaries. It gives local filmmakers the opportunity to show their films. The Center also welcomes associations involved in the cultural and creative industries sector. Some notable examples are the Fennec comedy club, and the Ayshe pastry school.
4. Marine life and diving
The Red Sea of Jeddah is home to a wide diversity of marine life, with a very colorful reef and lots of species to see: turtles, whale sharks, brightly colored corals and many kinds of fish.
What also makes the location so special is its convenience, as coral can be found all along the coast of Jeddah. There are both shallow waters as well as very deep ones, so scuba and free divers can find exactly the kind of location they want.
In the Red Sea, sharks are best seen at remote sites in the open sea. Several species venture into these waters, but one stands out from the rest: the silky sharks. Some people even snorkel near them.
Sharks are extremely important to life underwater, and some scientists have dubbed them “the doctors of the ocean”. They help keep an equilibrium in the ecosystem by preying on the weak or unhealthy, whose genes won’t be passed on to the next generation.
There are around 20% of unique and rare fish in the Red Sea, such as the endangered Napoleon fish, which can be seen at the Fakieh Aquarium – the first site of its kind in Saudi Arabia. The aquarium is home to over 200 species, around 85% of which come from Jeddah’s preserved coral reefs.
5. Sailing and the Yacht Club
Jeddah is also the ideal destination for sailing enthusiasts, offering countless opportunities for exploration on the water. The 122,000-square-meter Yacht Club is designed to accommodate yachts from all over the world, ranging in length from 10 to 120 meters. Visitors can also catch a glimpse of some of the world’s most prestigious luxury yachts as they stroll along the waterfront.
Jeddah is now a port of entry, which means boats can arrive and check in directly in the marina. Customs and migration can be processed in 20 minutes. For many, this is the ideal location for yachts coming from the Mediterranean down to the Indian Ocean.
Visitors can stroll through a picturesque marina open to the public and lined with designer boutiques and high-end restaurants. Some of the fish, freshly caught in the Red Sea, include the Ranid, Xeri, Ramour, the sea bass, and the Nagil, which is the most coveted fish in Jeddah, as it is tastier and has fewer bones. It can be either fried or grilled.
6. Al-Rahma mosque
A few steps from the marina is the Al-Rahma mosque, also known as the “floating mosque”, because at high tide the mosque seems to hover above the waves of the Red Sea below, and also because of the pillars that hold it above the water’s edge.
Built in 1985, the mosque combines ancient and modern Islamic architecture. The central dome is supported by eight pillars and the roof is inlaid with stained glass, from which hangs a chandelier. This mosque is a must-see for all visitors.