Al-Balad, Jeddah

This article is about the historical area in Jeddah. For other uses, see Balad (disambiguation).
Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah

Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Location within Saudi Arabia
General information
Town or city Jeddah, Makkah Region
Country Saudi Arabia
Coordinates 21°29′N 39°11′E / 21.483°N 39.183°E / 21.483; 39.183Coordinates: 21°29′N 39°11′E / 21.483°N 39.183°E / 21.483; 39.183
Official name Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iv, vi
Designated 2014 (38th session)
Reference no. 1361
State Party Saudi Arabia
Region the Arab States

Al-Balad is the historical area of Jeddah, the second largest city of Saudi Arabia. Balad can literally be translated as "The City."[1] Balad is the historic center of the City of Jeddah.[2]

Al-Balad was founded in the 7th century and historically served as the centre of Jeddah.[3] Al-Balad's defensive walls were torn down in the 1940s. In the 1970s and 1980s, when Jeddah began to become wealthier due to the oil boom, many Jeddawis moved north, away from Al-Balad,[4] as it reminded them of less prosperous times.[5] Al-Balad had insufficient parking space for large cars. Its stores did not sell expensive designer clothing. Poor immigrants moved in place of the Saudi population.[4] The municipality of Jeddah began historical preservation efforts in the 1970s. In 1991 the Municipality of Jeddah founded the Jeddah Historical Preservation Society to preserve the historical architecture and culture of Al-Balad. In 2002 $4 million United States dollars were earmarked for the preservation society.[5]In 2009 Al-Balad was nominated by Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities to be listed in UNESCO's World Heritage site and it was accepted on 2014.[6]

In order to preserve the old structures within the Balad, the Historical Area Preservation Department was established in 1990, hoping also to help promoting cultural tourism in the country.

Many Jeddawis have moved away from Al-Balad by 2007; the streets of Balad were still packed with people during the month of Ramadan.[2] Around that year the Jeddah Urban Development Company was formed to restore Al-Balad.[7]



  1. Dahir, Mubarak. "4 hours in Jeddah: Mubarak Dahir discovers Jeddah's intriguing historic neighborhoods and souks time to rwhile finding elax by the city's main attraction, the Red Sea." Business Traveler. 1 August 2004. Retrieved on 25 August 2009.
  2. 1 2 Baker, Razan. "Tales of Old Jeddah." Arab News. Thursday 25 January 2007 (06 Muharram 1428). Retrieved on 25 August 2009.
  3. Bradley 14.
  4. 1 2 Bradley 15.
  5. 1 2 Bradley 16.
  7. Fakkar, Galal. "Company Formed to Restore Jeddah’s Historical Old City." Arab News. Thursday 11 January 2007 (21 Dhul Hijjah 1427). Retrieved on 25 August 2009.


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