Information & Facts
Jeddah features an arid climate, and unlike many other Saudi
Arabian cities, it retains its warmth during the winter months from
November to February. Summer temperatures see the mercury reaching
extreme temperatures, sometimes soaring above the 104F (40C) mark
in the afternoons and hovering around 86F (30C) in the mornings and
evenings. The summer months are punctuated with dust storms which
come from the Arabian Peninsula's deserts or from North Africa.
During the winter months rainfall in Jeddah is infrequent but is
most common in the month of December when winter thunderstorms are
Arabic is the official language in Saudi Arabia, but
English is widely understood.
The Saudi currency is the Riyal (SAR), divided into 100 halala.
Foreign currency can be changed at banks and exchange bureaux.
Banking hours are generally Saturday to Wednesday from 8am to 12pm
and 4pm to 8pm. All major credit cards are accepted at shops,
hotels and restaurants in Saudi Arabia. Travellers cheques are also
accepted and ATMs are widely available. There are no taxes in Saudi
Arabia, so shopping is good value.
Shopping in Jeddah is a serious sport. As there aren't many
entertainment options for women in Saudi Arabia, shopping malls
have turned into 'destination malls': enormous structures with not
only hundreds of shops, but full-scale amusement parks, ice skating
rinks, and dozens of restaurants. The facilities are ultra-modern,
and most importantly completely air-conditioned, allowing both men
and women in Jeddah to beat the heat while they enjoy
The newest and largest mall in Jeddah is the Mall of Arabia,
which has more than 330 shops, and a Snow Village where guests can
cool off and enjoy themselves in the snow. The mall has plenty of
entertainment for children as well, including puppet shows and
children's theatre. Other popular malls in Jeddah include the Red
Sea Mall, the Heraa International Mall, and Roshan Mall.
The selection of shops at the malls is huge, with many
international brands that visitors will recognise, including
Diesel, Nike, Banana Republic, Express, H&M, Lacoste, Marks
& Spencer, and Nine West. Luxury brands are also there in
abundance, including Versace, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel
and Armani. Most shops in Jeddah are open from 9 or 10am to 1pm,
and then from 5pm to 10pm.
For a more authentic Middle Eastern shopping experience, the old
town centre of Jeddah is home to a number of crowded souks
(bazaars) where touts are waiting to haggle over leathergoods, gold
jewellery and textiles, as well as knock-off designer goods. The
most popular bazaar in Jeddah is the Souq al-Alawi.
Jeddah is considered the most cosmopolitan city in Saudi Arabia,
and the constant expansion of the concrete is threatening to engulf
the beautiful coral architecture of the Old Town, which is in a sad
state of disrepair. However, some, like the Naseef House, have been
restored to its former glory, complete with camel-friendly
The Souq al-Awawi is a fascinating place, even if you aren't
there to buy. The biggest bazaar in Jeddah, the narrow streets are
bursting with merchandise, and the market is especially busy during
Haj. Another market worth seeing is the fish market in Al-Balad,
where dozens of species ranging from hammerhead sharks to squid are
sold at auction between 5am and 9am.
Another popular place for sightseeing in Jeddah is the 22-mile
(35km) Corniche, a busy meeting place where families and friends
gather for picnics and other activities on warm summer nights. A
number of interesting sculptures line the promenade north of the
To learn something about Jeddah's history, visit the Al-Tayibat
City Museum for International Civilisation, which has more than 300
rooms filled with fascinating artefacts ranging from beautiful
Islamic manuscripts to ancient pottery and furniture.
Travellers wanting to see a different side of Jeddah can explore
the abundant sealife in the Red Sea. Scuba diving in Jeddah is a
popular activity, with several stunning coral reef systems and
shipwrecks in the area.
Local time is GMT +3.