In a strategic location halfway down the eastern shore of the Red Sea, Saudi Arabia’s commercial capital Jeddah has been a trading hub for centuries. Serving as the gateway to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, Jeddah (the name means “grandmother”) is one of the Middle East’s oldest and most cosmopolitan cities.
Roam the historic Al-Balad (old quarter), with its frenetic souks and galleried houses of coral stone, then head out to the waterfront Corniche, with its trail of public sculptures, for people watching or views into a seaside sunset. More liberal than the Saudi capital of Riyadh, Jeddah doesn’t fully enforce conservative dress codes: women, for example, need not cover their hair in public (though they must still wear the ‘abaya’ cloak, and travel with a male chaperone). Remember this is a conservative Muslim country - alcohol is illegal.