Jeddah is a city in the Hijaz Tihamah region on the coast of the Red Sea and is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. With a population currently at 5.1 million, Jeddah is an important commercial hub in Saudi Arabia.

Jeddah is the principal gateway to Mecca, Islam's holiest city, which able-bodied Muslims are required to visit at least once in their lifetime. It is also a gateway to Medina, the second holiest place in Islam. Economically, Jeddah is focusing on further developing capital investment in scientific and engineering leadership within Saudi Arabia, and the Middle East.

Jeddah was independently ranked fourth in the Africa – Mid-East region in terms of innovation in 2009 in the Innovation Cities Index.

Jeddah is one of Saudi Arabia's primary resort cities and was named a Gamma world city by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC).

Historically, Jeddah has been well known for its legendary money changers. The largest of said money changers at the time (the late Sheikh Salem Bin Mahfouz) eventually founded Saudi Arabia's first bank, the National Commercial Bank (NCB).

Climate

Jeddah features an arid climate under Koppen's climate classification. Unlike other Saudi Arabian cities, Jeddah retains its warm temperature in winter, which can range from 15 °C (59 °F) at dawn to 28 °C (82 °F) in the afternoon. Summer temperatures are extremely hot, often breaking the 43 °C (109 °F) mark in the afternoon and dropping to 30 °C (86 °F) in the evening. Rainfall in Jeddah is generally sparse, and usually occurs in small amounts in November and December. Heavy thunderstorms are common in winter. The thunderstorm of December 2008 was the largest in recent memory, with rain reaching around 3 inches (7.6 cm). The lowest temperature ever recorded in Jeddah was 11.0 °C (51.8 °F) in March 1983. The highest temperature ever recorded in Jeddah was 49.0 °C (120.2 °F) on June 9, 1961. Dust storms happen in summer and sometimes in winter, coming from the Arabian Peninsula's deserts or from North Africa.

Economy

Jeddah has long been a port city. Even before being designated the port city for Mecca, Jeddah was a trading hub for the region. In the 19th century, goods such as mother-of-pearl, tortoise shells, frankincense, and spices were routinely exported from the city. Apart from this, many imports into the city were destined for further transit to the Suez, Africa, or Europe. Many goods passing through Jeddah could not even be found in the city or even in Arabia. All of the capitals of the Middle East and North Africa are within two hours flying distance of Jeddah, making it the second commercial center of the Middle East after Dubai. Also, Jeddah's industrial district is the fourth largest industrial city in Saudi Arabia after Riyadh, Jubail and Yanbu.

Culture

Religious Significance

Most citizens are Sunni Muslims. The government, courts and civil and criminal laws enforce a moral code established by Shari'ah. A very small minority of Saudi citizens is Shia Muslims, and there is also a large foreign workforce who is forbidden to follow their non-Islamic religions even privately, but this is little enforced. The city has over 1,300 mosques. The law does not allow other religions' buildings, books, icons and expressions of faith. However, private religious observance not involving Muslims nor offending public order and morality is sometimes tolerated. Since the 7th century, Jeddah has hosted millions of Muslim pilgrims from all over the world on their way to Hajj. This merge with pilgrims has a major impact on the society, religion, and economy of Jeddah. It also brings an annual risk of illness, known by locals as the 'hajji disease', a general term for various viral maladies.

Landmarks

There are about a dozen museums or collections in Jeddah, with varied educational aims and professionalism. These include the Jeddah Regional Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography run by the Deputy Ministry of Antiquities and Museums, the Jeddah Municipal Museum, the Nasseef House, the Humane Heritage Museum, the private Abdul Rauf Hasan Khalil Museum and the private Arts Heritage Museum.

Museums and collections King Fahd's Fountain

King Fahd's Fountain was built in the 1980s, can be seen from a great distance and, at 312 metres (1,024 ft), is the highest water jet in the world according to the Guinness World Records. The fountain was donated to the City of Jeddah by the late King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, after whom it was named.

NCB Tower

Built in 1983 and believed to be the highest tower in Saudi Arabia during the 1980s, with a height of over 235 m (771 ft), the National Commercial Bank was Saudi Arabia's first bank.

IDB Tower

The Islamic Development Bank is a multilateral development financing institution. It was founded by the first conference of Finance Ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC, now the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), convened 18 December 1973. The bank officially began its activities on 20 October 1975.

Jeddah Municipality Tower

This is the headquarters of the metropolitan area of Jeddah. The municipality's new building is one of Jeddah's tallest.

Kingdom Tower

This proposed tower is to be built in Jeddah by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal and will stand 1-kilometre (0.62 mi) tall. Upon its completion, it will be the tallest skyscraper in the world. The building has been scaled down from its initial 1.6 km (1 mi) proposal, since the ground proved unsuitable for a building that tall, to a height of at least 1,000 metres (3,280.84 ft) (the exact height is being kept private while in development, similar to the Burj Khalifa), which, at about one kilometre (0.62 miles), would still make it by far the tallest building or structure in the world to date, standing at least 173 m (568 ft) taller than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

King Road Tower

King Road Tower is a commercial and office building, the external walls of which are used to show commercials. The building also has a helipad on its roof. King Road Tower has the largest LED display in the world on its walls.

Al Jawharah Tower

Al Jawharah Tower is a residential high-rise under construction. It became the third-tallest structure in Jeddah when completed in 2014.

Jeddah Flagpole

The King Abdullah Square on the intersection of Andalus Road with King Abdullah Road has the world's tallest flagpole. It is 170 meters high and the Saudi flag atop it weighs 570 kilograms. On the 84th Saudi National Day, September 23, 2014, the flagpole hoisted a huge Saudi flag before a crowd of thousands. The flagpole succeeded Dushanbe Flagpole & is currently the tallest flagpole in the world.

Entrance of Makkah

The Makkah Gate, named the "Quran Gate", is located on the Makkah Mukkarram road of the Jeddah-Makkah Highway. It is the entrance to Makkah and the birthplace of Muhammad. The gate signifies the boundary of the haram area of the city of Makkah, where non-Muslims are prohibited to enter.The gate was designed in 1979 by an Egyptian architect, Samir Elabd, for the architectural firm IDEA Center. The structure is that of a book, representing the Qur'an, sitting on a rehal, or book stand.