Historical Area of Jeddah

Date of Submission: 28/11/2006
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(iv)(v)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Suprene Commission for Tourism
State, Province or Region:
Makkah Province, Jeddah Governorate
Ref.: 5085
Word File

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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


The historical area of Jeddah is located in the center of Jeddah city, along the western coast of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea.

Some historical resources refer to the history of Jeddah as dating back to the era before Islam. However, the major changing point in the history of Jeddah occurred in the era of the Rashidi Khalifat Utham Ibn Affan on the year 647 AD, when he ordered it's transference to a harbor receiving pilgrims heading to Makkah for Hajj. At that time, it was named the country of consuls (Balad Al-Qanasil) and until today, Jeddah remains the main route for sea and air access for pilgrims, as well as many of those arriving by land transportation. Jeddah has always remained under the influence of the following successive Islamic Khilafat.

The historical area of Jeddah is considered to be one of the most important areas in the city of Jeddah due to its authenticity, its distinguished planning, and its unique architecture. It contains many historical landmarks and buildings such as: the Old Jeddah Wall and Gates, the old quarters (Al-Mazloom Quarter, Al-Sham Quarter, Al-Yaman Quarter, and Al-Bahar Quarter), there are also a number of historical mosques (Uthamn Ibn Affan Mosque, Al-Shafeey Mosque, Al-Basha Mosque, Ukash Mosque, AI-Meamar Mosque, and Al-Hanafi Mosque). The old Area also houses a number of old Souqs (Al-Nada Souq, AI-Khasequiyyah Souq, Al-Alaweey Souq, Al-Saghah (Jewelry) Souq) and a large number of heritage buildings that are all still in use.

The historical area of Jeddah is considered an eminent and unique pattern for architecture in the Red Sea zone, which includes the beautiful residential buildings and palaces that still maintain a lot of its urban heritage including its planning, architectural features, artistic features that form a homogeneous urban fabric along with its paths, quads, and market places (Souqs), providing a living example of a genuine Arabic Islamic city.

The urban fabric in the historical area of Jeddah is distinguished for having architectural and urban spaces in the form of alleys and streets with quads and piazzas towards their ends allowing extended vision, as well as their use for other tasks and activities by the residents of each quarter, such as gatherings during social occasions, religious holidays, and evening celebrations; in many cases, there were traditional cafes and shops providing for the various needs of the residents of each quarter, which is considered a common urban feature in the old cities of Al-Hijaz Region. The mosques were also important gathering centers in each quarter.

The historical quarters of Jeddah are also distinguished for their narrow streets and alleys that eliminate the sun's direct heat by providing the necessary shade, in addition the linkages of houses and meandering of roads and alleys assists in providing cooler air circulation, thus reducing the high temperatures. This harmonic and linked structure strengthened social links and ties among neighbors, and encouraged contacts and daily gatherings, this lead to a strong feeling of safety and security as well as providing protection from strangers and inquisitors.

The historical area of Jeddah gained an immense attention from the government, residents, and visitors, thus becoming the center of attention for all those arriving to the city of Jeddah, including visitors, and VIP state guests: Kings, presidents, and ministers. The area has been an objective for photographers and writers, the good impressions by many people who visited the area gave an image representing it as one of the most beautiful and well maintained old areas among other cities in the world.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The historical area of Jeddah is the oldest urban locale in Jeddah city from which modern urban expansion and development has been launched, especially after the demolition of the old wall. Nowadays, it forms the historical center of Jeddah city. Its genuineness is enhanced by its traditional and urban fabric along with the heritage buildings that are still in use and stood firm against the elements of time and weather. These buildings adapted forms from the Islamic civilization of distinguished urban mode reflecting the Andalusia and Ottoman art as well as the Arabesque being revealed in architectural and decorative formations of mosques and houses. One would rarely find a house is Old Jeddah not being decorated with Roashan and trimmed stones, which adapted a distinguished mode in the art of Islamic Civilization providing a certain level of privacy for the residents in a way allowing them to see people in streets, alleys, and quads without affecting their own privacy.

Comparison with other similar properties

The historical area of Jeddah is considered a unique example for architecture and urban fabric in the Mediterranean zone as well as the Arabian Peninsula. It is the only example left in the area of the Red Sea, especially after the vanishing of the identical historical quarters in cities such as: Suisse and Al- Qasseer in Egypt and Sawakin in Sudan.