If you think the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a vast, lifeless desert, think again. It is bustling with a variety of unique tourism options and activities. The kingdom’s center of commerce is the cosmopolitan city of Jeddah, and it is best to start here when visiting the kingdom for the first time. Getting to Jeddah is easy since it is where most international tourists, pilgrims, expats, backpackers, and businessmen converge. It’s been the melting pot of old since it was here where Arab traders and merchants used to engage in business for the past centuries.
Jeddah is located at 21.50° N, 39.1667° E, on the coast of the Red Sea to the south of the kingdom. It’s very strategic. There are several beaches here, which are important for tourists; it is a very wealthy urban area, which is important for businessmen; and it is considered the gateway to the holy city of Mecca, which is extremely important for pilgrims.
When getting to Jeddah by air, you will arrive at the kingdom’s largest airport, King Abdulaziz International Airport on the northern part of the city. It serves a host of airline companies from all over the world. International flights use the northern terminal, which is about 35 km from the city proper. The southern terminal is for domestic flights and used primarily by Saudi Arabian Airlines going to Riyadh, Dammam, Sakaka, Taif, and other major cities of the kingdom. The airport has two other terminals: one is reserved for Hajj pilgrims on their way to Mecca and the other is for exclusive use of Saudi royals and VIPs.
Getting to Jeddah by land is for the more adventurous travelers who typically tour from one major Middle East city to another. There are buses to Jeddah that come all the way from Syria and Jordan. These are long-distance bus lines that go to several major cities in the kingdom, but mostly to Jeddah. It’s a scenic ride and very educational for foreigners who wish to truly be immersed in the ways of the Arab people. But the shortest inter-city rides are about 18 hours long, so these are not for those who are in a hurry getting anywhere.
Getting to Jeddah by sea is also possible but only when you are coming in from Egypt. Again, this is a very scenic option but only when you have time to spare.
Jeddah promises not to disappoint. Its beaches are some of the best in the kingdom, and probably the only beaches in Saudi Arabia where you can find scantily dressed women in their bikinis. Beaches are the leading attractions in Jeddah and a few of the most popular ones are Durrat Al-Arus, Crystal Resort and Al Remal.
In addition to the beaches, tourists also marvel at several traditional buildings, historical attractions and unique pieces of architecture, the most popular of which are the Balad marketplace and Biet Nassif cultural building. Getting to Jeddah is truly worth it in so many ways. Make sure to make this exciting Arab city your next holiday destination.