Al-Balad, Jeddah

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this article is about the historical area in Jeddah; for other uses, see Balad (disambiguation).

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]

They little knew that they had established the cornerstone for one of the most thriving and cosmopolitan neighbourhoods of the Arab world. Balad is a beautiful blend of the modern and the classic where the glass facades of modern skyscrapers rub shoulders with Historical buildings with the distinct horizontally embedded Wooden beams that has come to symbolize Balad over years.[citation needed]

Though it may not occur to one as quickly as Bond Street or Fifth Avenue, Balad can be a Shopper's Paradise. Balad has a plethora of upscale shopping centers with high-end fashion brands from Milan and Paris, along with the traditional street vendors and open air Souks (Eastern Markets) . Many Saudi companies are headquartered here, the most famous of which is the National Commercial Bank. The award winning structural design is widely regarded as the first Arab Skyscraper and features Gordon Bunshaft at his best.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[6]



  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. ^ a b Baker, Razan. "Tales of Old Jeddah." Arab News. Thursday 25 January 2007 (06 Muharram 1428). Retrieved on 25 August 2009.
  3. ^ Bradley 14.
  4. ^ a b Bradley 15.
  5. ^ a b Bradley 16.
  6. ^ 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.


  • Bradley, John R. Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis. Palgrave Macmillan. 2005.

Coordinates: 21°29′N 39°12′E / 21.483°N 39.200°E / 21.483; 39.200