With its name literally meaning The City Jeddah’s historic quarter also known as the Al Balad district is a must-experience highlight for all visitors touring Oman’s second biggest metropolis. Visitors based in a Jeddah serviced apartment complex such as the Ascott Sari Jeddah can easily access this area which dates back to the 7th century A.D and remains one of Saudi Arabia’s most visited UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Lined with narrow and winding alleys the Al Balad District exudes old world charm and takes visitors back to a bygone era of simpler times. Tourists interested in making the most of their time in the region should take part in the many organized tours of the area which delves in to some of Al Balad’s top attractions and activities. Must-experience highlights include a visit to the Al Shafei mosque which is as old as the city itself while the two mammoth gates to the Old City names the Gate of Medinah and the Mecca Gate are equally impressive Ottoman style constructions. Known for its unique front doors, the buildings of Al Balad feature door covers that are known as Rawashan and Marshrabiya. The window covers are equally impressive and designed to maintain good air flow to cool the interiors as well as privacy for female members of the household.
Architecture buffs must tour the alleyways of the district which are littered with merchant homes of yesteryear while the Jeddah Municipality Museum also explores the area’s rich history in detail.
Shopaholics however must scour the stalls and aromatic shops occupying the area’s popular Balad souk Al- Alawi where tourist can purchase everything from coral jewellery to traditional clothing and leather handbags. Frankincense, natural oils and perfumes are also top buys in the souk while Arabic coffee, hibiscus flavour tea and Oud are other top buys among seasoned vacationers. Food lovers on the other hand must stopover at the souk’s many food stalls selling Arabic snacks and refreshments at affordable prices.
Don’t’ forget to take in the views from the Al Nafees House before heading to a Sheesha Cafe to enjoy some local coffee and company.
Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.