Jeddah (sometimes spelled Jiddah or Jedda; English: /ˈdʒɛdə/; Arabic: جدة Ǧidda, Hejazi pronunciation: [ˈd͡ʒɪd.da]) is a city in the Hijaz Tihamah region on the coast of the Red Sea and is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and with a population of about 4 million people (as of 2017), the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. Jeddah is Saudi Arabia's commercial capital.
Jeddah is the principal gateway to Mecca and Medina, two of the holiest cities in Islam and popular tourist attractions.
Economically, Jeddah is focusing on further developing capital investment in scientific and engineering leadership within Saudi Arabia, and the Middle East. Jeddah was independently ranked fourth in the Africa – Mid-East region in terms of innovation in 2009 in the Innovation Cities Index.
Jeddah is one of Saudi Arabia's primary resort cities and was named a Beta world city by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC). Given the city's close proximity to the Red Sea, fishing and seafood dominates the food culture unlike other parts of the country. In Arabic, the city's motto is "Jeddah Ghair," which translates to "Jeddah is different." The motto has been widely used among both locals as well as foreign visitors. The city had been previously perceived as the "most open" city in Saudi Arabia.
Some archaeologists' studies suggest the existence of inhabitants in the region now known as Jeddah since the Stone Age seeing as they found some artifacts and 'Thamoudian' writings in Wadi (valley) Breiman east of Jeddah and Wadi Boib northeast of Jeddah. Some historians trace its founding to the tribe of Bani Quda'ah, who inhabited it after the collapse of Sad (dam) Ma'rib in 115 BC. Some believe that Jeddah had been inhabited before the tribe of Bani Quda'ah by fishermen in the Red Sea, who considered it a center from which they sailed out into the sea as well as a place for relaxation and well-being. According to some accounts, the history of Jeddah dates back to early times before Alexander the Great, who visited the city between 323 and 356 BC.
In 1517, the Ottoman Turks conquered the Mamluk Sultanate in Egypt and Syria, during the reign of Selim I. As territories of the Mamluk Sultanate, the Hijaz, including Jeddah and the holy city of Mecca, passed into Ottoman possession. The Ottomans rebuilt the weak walls of Jeddah in 1525 following their victory over the Lopo Soares de Albergaria's Armada in the Red Sea. The new Turkish wall included six watchtowers and six city gates. They were constructed to defend against the Portuguese attack. Of the six gates, the Gate of Mecca was the eastern gate and the Gate of Al-Magharibah, facing the port, was the western gate. The Gate of Sharif faced south. The other gates were the Gate of Al-Bunt, Gate of Al-Sham (also called Gate of Al-Sharaf) and Gate of Medina, facing north. The Turks also built The Qishla of Jeddah, a small castle for the city soldiers. In the 19th century these seven gates were minimized into four giant gates with four towers. These giant gates were the Gate of Sham to the north, the Gate of Mecca to the east, the Gate of Sharif to the south, and the Gate of Al-Magharibah on the sea side.
Ahmed Al-Jazzar, the Ottoman military man mainly known for his role in the Siege of Acre, spent the earlier part of his career at Jeddah. In Jeddah in 1750, he killed some seventy rioting nomads in retaliation for the killing of his commander, Abdullah Beg, earning him the nickname "Jezzar" (butcher).
On 15 June 1858, rioting in the city, believed to have been instigated by a former police chief in reaction to British policy in the Red Sea, led to the massacre of 25 Christians, including the British and French consuls, members of their families, and wealthy Greek merchants. The British frigate HMS Cyclops, anchored at port, bombarded the city for two days and restored law and order.
Most citizens are Sunni Muslims. The government, courts and civil and criminal laws enforce a moral code established by Shari'ah. A very small minority of Saudi citizens are Shia Muslims, and there is also a large foreign workforce.
The city has over 1,300 mosques. The law does not allow other religions' buildings, books, icons and expressions of faith. However, private religious observance not involving Muslims nor offending public order and morality is sometimes tolerated.
Since the 7th century, Jeddah has hosted millions of Muslim pilgrims from all over the world on their way to Hajj. This merge with pilgrims has a major impact on the society, religion, and economy of Jeddah. It also brings an annual risk of illness, known by locals as the 'hajji disease', a general term for various viral maladies.
Jeddah is also home to several primary, intermediate and secondary schools such as:
Pakistan International School Jeddah (PISJ)
Jeddah Knowledge International School
American International School of Jeddah
Jeddah International School
Zahrat Al-Sahraa International school (ZSIS)
Cedar International School
British International School of Jeddah (Continental, BISJ)
École Française Internationale de Djeddah
German International School Jeddah
Al-Thager Model School
International Indian School Jeddah (IISJ)
Pakistan International School Jeddah (PISJ)
DPS Jeddah Al-Falah International School
International Philippine School in Jeddah
Jeddah Japanese School
Korean International School of Jeddah (KISJ; 젯다한국국제학교)