Welcome back! I haven’t written a blog post in quite a few months now, given the recent world events that have taken precedence in all our lives and shifted our focus recently. However just before the world went into lock down I went travelling in Saudi Arabia and I wanted to share my experience for whenever usual travel resumes.
Most people visit Saudi Arabia for religious purposes. This includes my most recent trip to Saudi, when I went for Ummrah, the smaller pilgrimage. During these visits most people spend their time in the blessed cities of Makkah and Medinah, which are the two holiest sites for Muslims. However in the last few months the Saudi authorities have released a new tourist visa, which mean visitors can now stay for up to 3 months and can take time to explore the rest of what Saudi has to offer. This meant that when I visited recently (pre-corona virus of course) I was able to combine my pilgrimage with also spending some time in the near by city of Jeddah. In these next few blog posts I will be sharing my thoughts on the city of Jeddah and some interesting and exciting places to visit there.
Background Information: Jeddah, is a Saudi Arabian port city on the Red Sea. It is a modern commercial hub and gateway for pilgrims to the Islamic holy cities of Makkah and Medinah. It a short distance from the holy pilgrimage sites which means it is the perfect location for pilgrims to combine a holy pilgrimage trip with a relaxing holiday. As a Muslim traveler I am always looking for places to visit and explore whilst still being able to access Halal food and places to pray. Jeddah offers just that. The gentle pace of life in Jeddah provides a lovely, relaxing and Halal holiday. Of course you can just visit Jeddah on it own or like me you can combine a trip to Jeddah with your pilgrimage visit.
Getting There: The port city of Jeddah is an hours drive from Makkah. King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah is the busiest airport in Saudi. Most pilgrims fly in and out of Jeddah airport anyway, making it very easily accessible for pilgrims to visit after completing their pilgrimage.
Usual flights from London to Jeddah cost around £300 – £400 depending on when you are travelling. Most pilgrims travel with a complete package from a travel agent which includes flights, transfers and hotels. The new visa system allows pilgrims to still do the pilgrimage whilst being more flexible with regards to their travel plans and details. However as mentioned earlier you also now can just visit Jeddah using the new tourist visa without performing the pilgrimage if you wish.
Accommodation: Once you arrive in Jeddah there are lots of places to stay. The most common option is to stay in hotels, ranging in prices and ratings depending on what you are looking for. Private rental through websites like Air B n B are starting to become more readily available in Jeddah also.
Visa: The new tourist visas for British visitors, means you can visit for up to 3 months and can have multiple entries throughout the year. You can easily apply for the visa online and it currently costs around £95.
Weather: November through March are the coolest months of the year in Jeddah with temperatures of around 18-29°C. To some, the summer months are unbearably hot with temperatures that can reach as high as 41°C. During the summer months the air often feels heavy with humidity.
Language: Arabic is the official language spoken in Saudi Arabia. In the city of Jeddah you will find most people are able to speak English so tourists are easily able to explore and navigate through the city.
Currency and Price: The currency in Jeddah is the Saudi Riyal. At the time of writing this post the Saudi Riyal was 5 Riyal to 1 Great British Pound. I personally found Jeddah to be quite an affordable city, especially when compared with some other Gulf countries.
Safety: Jeddah is generally a very safe city and I personally felt very safe there. Crime is very minimal and exploring during the evening or night holds no danger. If you are concerned about safety in Jeddah then I would recommend doing your own further research into this.
Transport: The easiest way to travel around Jeddah is either to hire a rental car or use taxis. Public transport is not very easy to access or use. Recently a new high way train has been built and is operating. It connects the cities of Makkah and Medinah to Jeddah. This is another great way for pilgrims to easily combine their pilgrimage with a holiday in Jeddah.
Food: There are lots and lots of food options in Jeddah from affordable vendors to well known restaurants including The Cheesecake Factory and PF Chang’s. Of course all the food in Jeddah is Halal and alchohol is not available in public which makes it great option for Muslim travelers.
Masjids: With Jeddah being a Muslim city there are lots of different Masjids and places to pray easily across the city including on the beach and in shops. This once again makes it a great place for Muslim travelers.
There is lots to do in Jeddah but I particularly wanted to share some interesting and special places that Jeddah has to ofer. Be sure to check back on my next few blog posts where I will be sharing some incredible places to visit in Jeddah