Jeddah, the Gateway to Hajj
Jeddah, the second largest city and the commercial centre of Saudi Arabia, is located on the shores of Red Sea, being the largest port of its kind. Due to its commercialism, the city is cosmopolitan in nature and offers one of the best climates for investment in the country. Most of the government offices are located in Jeddah and until recently even the embassies of various western countries were situated here before having relocated to the capital city of Riyadh. Many of the consulates are still around and co-exist with the various shopping districts, restaurants, tourist attractions and resorts which are scattered throughout the city.
Also spelt as ‘Jidda’ or ‘Jedda’, the city of Jeddah serves as the gateway for the Haj pilgrims headed towards Mecca and Medina. For a non-Muslim, this is the last point till which his presence is permitted and traveling beyond towards the holy cities is considered as a desecration. This city is believed to have acquired its name from an Arabic word ‘Jaddah’ meaning grandmother due to the presence of the tomb of Eve who is considered as being the grandmother of humanity.
This city can be accessed through various means of transport namely flight, buses and ferry service. The city receives its air traffic at the King Abdulaziz International Airport and all the arrivals and departures occur through four terminals, one reserved for domestic flights, one for international flights and two dedicated exclusively to Haj pilgrims. Likewise, people traveling from Egypt could board a ferry to Jeddah and those traveling from the neighbouring countries of Syria and Jordan could arrive here by bus.
Getting around within the city is not a problem at all since there are plenty of buses and taxis not to mention the boats which travel around the city and are popularly referred to as water taxis.