Saturday, December 1, 2007

The City of Jeddah

Jeddah Historical District

Being in Jeddah is the closest we will get to the Holy City of Mecca. At the Jeddah Historical District we visited homes that were between 300 to 1000 years old. The architecture and building materials were so different in that buildings were constructed out of coral interlaced with wood.

Our tour guide was a very energetic man with a great personality. He explained that the city of Jeddah is buying old historical buildings, renovating them, then renting them to low income and middle income families. During "boom" times, he said, the country is infused with money because of the rise of the price of oil. "How much are you paying now?" he asked, and he could not keep a straight face asking the Americans this question. We laughed too.

Building in Old Jeddah

Within the district were shopping kiosks, much like swap meets, but here they are called souks. Shopping in them was so much fun! They sold everything you could possible need. Some of my purchases:

Kohl powder for eyeliner
Children’s abaya
Men’s outfit
Silver jewelery

Our guide, Abdullah, helped bargain for us, but I was really impressed with my colleague Bill who learned Arabic in the last 6 months while listening to language tapes. He bargained better than the native men! Our day at the souk ended with a cup of coffee in the Western style mall, and it was fascinating to see how everything shut down for the noon type prayer. He call to prayer is a man singing verses from the Ko’ran, in a haunting melodic way. This call is broadcast through the P.A. system and on thousands of bullhorns and speakers throughout the city. There are mosques everywhere, including in the middle of the souk.

Muslims pray 5 times a day, and they must pray in the direction of Mecca. Everywhere we have gone, there are stickers with a picture of the Kaaba (the structure in the center of Mecca that everyone prays to) and a directional arrow. People wash all parts of their bodies exposed to the air, and then pray on their prayer rug. The shops close for a couple of hours at this time, and people go home to have lunch.

The night ended with another phenomenal dinner and cultural event. The delegation was entertained with traditional music and dancing, and of course, coffee and dates.

Dates served a million different ways

The director of our program, Mike, who is really cool




  2. What is the history of the muslim faith?

  3. Thanks for showing my brother in your picture! What a great surprise to see him as I was reading your blog.