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Historic JEDDAH is situated in the centre of the modern city of JEDDAH. Some sources indicate that its history dates back to the pre-Islamic era. A turning point in its history was in the days of the Muslim Caliph OTHMAN BIN AFFAN when he made it the port city for MAKKAH ALMUKARAMA in 605 AD (26 Hijri).

Historic JEDDAH includes a number of monuments, historic and cultural buildings, such as the remnants of the old boundary wall, and the old quarters: ALMAZLOOM, ASHAM, ALYAMAN, and ALBAHR. It also contains a number of Historic Mosques, the most notable of which are: OTHMAN BIN AFFAN, ASHAFIEY, ALBASHA, UKASH, ALMIEMAR, and ALHANAFI DJAMEA). There are old Souqs, such as: ANNADA, ALKHASKIYAH, ALALAWI, ASSAGHA, in addition to a large number of existing Cultural buildings that are still used.

  Historic JEDDAH is a unique example of traditional architecture in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, situated on the shores of the Red Sea. A great deal of artistic elements and design characteristics distinguish its beautiful residences and palaces. In addition, the layout of the old town forms a homogeneous pattern and gives an existing example of an authentic Arabic Islamic city. The existence of urban spaces within the urban fabric distinguish Historic JEDDAH. These are exemplified through alleys, lanes, and plazas allowing a wider vista.

Other functions are also addressed, for it forms the meeting point for the inhabitants in their gatherings, celebrations, and nightly entertainment; traditional cafés and shops providing specialized services often surround the plazas. Narrow alleys and lanes distinguish Historic JEDDAH’S suburbs by blocking some of the sun’s heat and providing much-needed shade. Moreover the close situation of the residences to each other and the winding lanes and alleys help to providing the homes with a cool breeze reducing the air temperature. Mosques formed popular gathering points for the inhabitants of the old city. This tightly packed urban fabric helped in binding the inhabitants more closely together, and their meeting on a daily basis formed a sense of security.

The Government of Saudi Arabia, the inhabitants, and visitors are all attracted to Historic JEDDAH, as it becomes a destination for JEDDAH’S Visitors and VIP guests of the Government, and a target for writers and photographers. Historic JEDDAH represents a unique example of a comprehensive urban fabric reflecting the characteristics of the Red Sea Coast urban heritage, multiple floors and architectural detailing on its elevations especially the wooden screening element or “MASHRABIYAH” with distinctive designs are examples of these buildings. This style of building is extinct in the majority of cities and towns of the Red Sea Coast.

The Historic and Cultural value of Historic JEDDAH is in its location in the centre of Modern JEDDAH, where it reflects an example of Historic city centres that have disappeared from most modern cities in Arabia and from some cities of the Red Sea Coast in particular. This example integrates both the cultural and intellectual aspects of urban design with other examples in Islamic States, and contributes to the knowledge of authentically old cities and architecture in accordance to the criteria for World Heritage.

Historic JEDDAH is a major example of a traditional urban area planned and constructed in a traditional manner using local building materials (such as stone and wood) compatible with the social requirements and cultural characteristics of the region. The buildings highlight a clear example of people interacting with nature using local materials in building techniques, their artistry in using local materials, their innovative architectural thinking in proper design. The design illustrates internal organization, preserving Islamic privacy within the resident’s realm, whilst allowing for ventilation, illumination, and orientation. All the factors ensure the best possible comfort for the inhabitants, by adding shade and privacy to lanes as well as open areas. Historic JEDDAH also reflects the integration between people and the surrounding environment. Unless steps are taken to preserve this architectural and cultural treasure, this example is destined to annihilation especially given the dominance of Modern Architecture and planning and construction systems.

  Historic JEDDAH is the oldest urban area of JEDDAH city, from whence modern urban expansion sprawled, especially after the destruction of its historical fence. It currently forms the Historic centre of JEDDAH city. Its buildings reflect the forms of Islamic civilization with a unique urban style reflecting Andalusia and Ottoman art, whilst Arabic designs prevail, especially in the architectural and decorative forms in Mosques and Residences. Most houses are constructed with Coral stone and decorated with wooden screens (Rawasheen). The latter are a unique style in the Art of Islamic civilization, preserving the privacy of the inhabitants.

In 1970 (1399 Hijri), the Ministry of Municipalities and Rural affairs (MOMRA) studied Historic JEDDAH by commissioning Robert Mathew consultants; they suggested the Preservation of 537 buildings, from amongst those in good condition. The consultants categorized them into three grades (First, Second, and Third), documenting them and establishing a basis for planning criteria to be implemented on these buildings and in the plans for Historic JEDDAH in general. JEDDAH Municipality adopted a project concerning the Conservation and Rehabilitation of Historic JEDDAH, The project began in 1970 (1399 Hijri), being the oldest conservation project for urban heritage in the Kingdom. This included a number of sub projects for developing the Historic area within the project.

In Coordination with SCTA, JEDDAH Municipal Trust adopted the Development Project for Historic JEDDAH, aiming to group both conservation and protection policies and Rehabilitation, development, and proper utilization that satisfies the owners, but allows for consistent development for this crucial part of the city. This Project was honoured by H.R.H the late Prince MAJID BIN ABDULAZIZ, and H.R.H late Prince ABDULMAJEED BIN ABDULAZIZ, and H.R.H Prince KHALID ALFAISAL Governor of MAKKAH AL MUKARAMA Region, and H.R.H Prince MISHAAL BIN MAJID BIN ABDULAZIZ the Governor of JEDDAH.

In (19/7/1427) A Royal Decree Number (MB/5455) commissioned SCTA to register Historic JEDDAH within UNESCO’S World Heritage List.

SCTA is currently working on preparing a nomination file for Historic JEDDAH’s registration within UNESCO’S WHL to present it in 2010.

SCTA is working on the preparation of the registration file of Historic JEDDAH for UNESCO’s World Heritage List, to be submitted in 2010