Thursday, December 21, 2017

The New Jeddah Waterfront Project

The city of Jeddah runs north and south for many miles along the Red Sea coastline.  A large phase of the Jeddah Waterfront project was recently completed and officially opened to the public on November 30th.  This phase of the project cost a whopping 800 million Saudi riyals and runs along the coastline for 4.2 kilometers.

I stayed away until a couple of days ago hoping the crowds had died down.  There is also no way I would attempt to go near there on the crowded weekends either!

The beautiful pier that stretches out over the Red Sea for over 400 meters lights up at night and sports several sections with seating areas for picnics or relaxing or for just enjoying the beauty of the sea breezes.

Lots of large shade canopies were incorporated into the project as well as lovely walkways, sculptures, and plantings of flowers.  

The facilities are also equipped with about 100 surveillance cameras with facial recognition technology.

A manmade island formed in the shape of a crescent moon has been planted with dozens of palm trees.  There are also three nearby beach areas for public swimming - much of the area is not suitable for swimming because of the rocky coastline.  

A fishing pier, several restaurants, and a boat marina are also part of the ambitious addition.  

There are still other phases of the expansive waterfront project coming, extending further north up the coastline.

School children on a school field trip walked along the pier in an orderly fashion.  I like their shadows and the canopies' shadows in this pic.

Some new sculptures adorn the grassy areas and gardens, alongside some old familiar landmarks. 

I love this new graceful seagulls sculpture, don't you?  The Red Sea behind it is a perfect backdrop for this artwork.

This modern sculpture is an elegant human form - I like it!

Above is the view looking to the north along the Jeddah Waterfront.  We were able to see hundreds of fish swimming in the clear waters and we spied many crabs sunbathing on the rocks below.

Jeddah is known as "The Bride of the Red Sea" and the disk this mermaid is holding says that in Arabic.  In the background is one of Spanish artist Julio Lafuente's famous Jeddah sculptures called "Science and Religion."

The sculpture "Science and Religion" is visible from many points around the Jeddah Waterfront.  It used to be inaccessible, positioned in the middle of a lagoon in the area.  The new waterfront design has placed it in its new location in the middle of the corniche park.  

The sculpture is comprised of 72 celestial moons made of marble, symbolizing the moon's phases of waxing and waning, and is topped off by a crescent moon which is an important symbol in Islam.  Each of these moons weighs 1.8 tons! So it wasn't an easy feat to move and place this monument in its new location.  CLICK HERE to see an older photo of mine in its original place in the middle of a lagoon.

It was nice to see so many men, women and children out walking and enjoying the sunlight and the more moderate December weather.

Contrary to popular belief outside the realm of Saudi Arabia, there were many unescorted women out walking amidst the flowers and palm trees lining the Red Sea.

The above photo shows the end of beautiful new pier at the Jeddah Waterfront looking to the south.  There are many shaded areas with nice seating along the pier.

There are several stylized galloping horse sculptures along the Jeddah Waterfront amidst pools and fountains.  They are likely the work of a local artist who has made other horse and camel sculptures for the city of Jeddah.

Another exciting feature is the many nice new public restrooms, which can be scarce (or gross!) in this city of almost 4 million. The logo of the Jeddah Waterfront  project is also shown above on the wall of one of the new bathrooms - it's a flock of birds that are shaped like boomerangs.

Several new colorful themed playgrounds for kids are a welcome addition, and internet service is provided for adults too. Below is another new sculpture next to another playground. 

The floral plantings and grasses were chosen to survive in Jeddah's hot and harsh climate.  Watering systems have also been installed.

Colorful flowers, graceful sculptures, and palm trees with the lovely Red Sea as their backdrop.

Pools and fountains are also scattered throughout the beautiful gardens and walkways, although the ones we saw were drained the day we were there.  


Here is another of the new modern white sculptures featured along the walkway near the pier with lots of new palm trees planted in the background.  

There are also several mosques located along this stretch of the Red Sea Corniche where the new Jeddah Waterfront is located.

To read more and see more photos of this new addition to Jeddah's coastline, click  HERE  and  HERE.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Jeddah's Bastah Market

Last night was the opening of the seasonal open air Bastah Market, located in the heart of the business district adjacent to Jeddah's Corniche.  It is near the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and the world's largest flagpole.  

The market set-up reminds me of farmer's markets in the US, but on a much larger scale.  The market is in its third year of operation and is operated through the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce in an effort to highlight and support local start-up businesses.  It is open only on Fridays from 5-11pm, and runs from December 1, 2017, for 12 weeks only, and will end on February 16, 2018.

The booths are organized by rows, with about half of the businesses selling foods, drinks, and desserts.  The rest of the booths offer a wide variety of services, clothing, jewelry, accessories, art, handmade crafts, and many other unique items.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable time walking through the rows amidst the friendly smiling vendors and happy customers.  Frequently we could feel the delightful cool breezes coming off the nearby Red Sea.  Many booths were manned by family members, from grandparents down to children.  The market is very family friendly, with children's activities and a nearby playground for kids across the street. 

Creativity and charm abounds in the various items for sale. Much of the clothing incorporates traditional Saudi designs and fabrics in the abayas, dresses, shirts and scarves.  We were bombarded with free samples to taste from all the food booths, ranging from all kinds of tasty sweets to dried fruits to savory rice and meat dishes.  My advice would be to go there hungry and carry a big empty shopping bag with you!

While there were plenty of people on hand, I didn't feel it was too crowded for the opening night.
But I have a feeling that as word gets out about this weekly event, more and more throngs of visitors will make their way to it.  The upbeat mood made it evident to me that the people of Jeddah are hungry for this type of activity, making a fun night out with family and friends.

I hope you enjoy the rest of these photos from my visit to the Bastah Market...

Scrumptious desserts and sweets

A Saudi mom assisted at her booth by her young son

Food truck with sidewalk seating

Adorable colorful handmade girls' headbands

Three young entrepreneurs offering their own special milkshake creations

Food fit for a king

Talented Saudi women cooking up a storm

A safe family atmosphere, appealing to all ages

This family of magicians provided great entertainment

Adorable homemade baby toys

A very enjoyable activity in Jeddah's cooler winter months

Very cool and unique music boxes were offered at this booth

These smiling young ladies were hocking handmade hair accessories

The food offerings were varied and delicious

Serving the popular date filled cookies called mamool

One colorful booth after another

Boys serving up traditional Saudi hospitality in the form of Arabic coffee called gahwa

That's me speaking with one of the lovely dessert vendors

Bastah Market - Open Fridays only from 5pm until 11pm from December 1, 2017 through February 16, 2018.

Click HERE for a map location of Jeddah's Bastah Market