#TheSoloDrifter in Saudi Arabia | Hejaz Hues and Jeddah’s Diversity and Artistry

At the heart of the captivating Hejaz lies the bustling metropolis of Jeddah, a city that pulsates with the rhythms of modernity while proudly preserving its rich heritage. As you navigate through the labyrinthine streets of Jeddah, you’ll be greeted by a kaleidoscope of cultures, languages, and traditions, each contributing to the city’s unique identity. From the bustling souks teeming with merchants from around the world to the serene Corniche overlooking the Red Sea, Jeddah is a melting pot where diversity thrives. Join me as we embark on a journey to uncover the myriad facets of Jeddah’s cultural mosaic, where every corner reveals a new story waiting to be told.

Saudi Arabia Travel Guide
Al Bahah
Asir Region
Eastern Region

What to know about Hejaz Province

  1. It is known as the Western Province
  2. It is where the cities of Mecca and Medina, respectively the first and second holiest sites in Islam, are located.
  3. According to Arab and Islamic sources, the civilization of Mecca started after Ibrāhīm (Abraham) brought his son Ismāʿīl (Ishmael) and wife Hājar (Hagar) here, for the latter two to stay. 
  4. It is where Muhammad was born, and where he founded a Monotheistic Ummah of followers.
  5. Saudi Arabia’s and Hejaz’s first World Heritage Site that was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is that of Al-Hijr (“The Land of Stones” or “The Rocky Place”). The site is known for having structures carved into rocks, similar to Petra.

What to know about Jeddah

  1. The largest city in Makkah Province, the largest city in Hejaz, the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia (after the capital Riyadh).
  2. One of Saudi Arabia’s primary resort cities.
  3. All of the capitals of the Middle East and North Africa are within two hours flying distance of Jeddah, making it the second commercial center of the Middle East after Dubai.
  4. Events and festivals include Red Sea International Film Festival, Jeddah International Book Fair and Jeddah Season.
  5. Jeddah is served by King Abdulaziz International Airport. The airport has four passenger terminals. One is the Hajj Terminal, a special outdoor terminal covered by large white tents, which was constructed to handle the more than two million pilgrims who pass through the airport during the Hajj season. 
  6. It is also home to Formula One Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The focus of this travel blog is Jeddah and nearby locations. Places like Tabuk are covered in a different travel blog post under my Saudi Arabia Travel Guide. I usually visit Jeddah to conduct trainings and do side trips in between. I would appreciate if you could recommend me some places within the city or nearby. If you wish to bring me to places not mentioned here or to places I haven’t visited yet, feel free to message me in any of my social media pages.

During my first visit in Jeddah, I noticed its passion about arts. While researching about the reason why, I learned that during the oil boom in the late 1970s and 1980s, there was a focused civic effort led by the then city’s mayor Mohamed Said Farsi to bring art to Jeddah’s public areas. As a result, Jeddah contains a large number of modern open-air sculptures and works of art, typically situated in roundabouts. 

What to do

Exploring the Old Jeddah (Al-Balad)

Since it has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status, in 2014, several traditional buildings have been restored and made open to the public.

Showtime at King Fahd’s Fountain and a lively walk at Jeddah Corniche

The highest water jet in the world according to the Guinness World Records. There are plenty of great vantage points to watch the King Fahd’s Fountain, and the Jeddah corniche is among the best.

Visiting the Jeddah Yacht Club & Marina and Al-Rahmah Mosque

 You’ll also catch glimpses of some of the world’s top luxury yachts as you wander the waterfront. Across the water, you’ll see the famous Al-Rahmah Mosque, sometimes referred to as the “floating mosque” because of it being built above water, this fascinating mix of the old architecture and the new was built in 1985. It is a popular spot among tourists and natives looking to lounge by the seaside.

Then world’s tallest flagpole

The King Abdullah Square had the world’s tallest flagpole with 171 meters.

Enjoying the vibe of resorts

In my bucketlist is visiting some resorts in Jeddah. The city has many popular resorts, including Durrat Al-Arus, Al-Nawras Mövenpick resort at the Red Sea Corniche, Crystal Resort, Radisson Blu, The Signature Al Murjan Beach Resort, Al Nakheel Village, Sands, and Sheraton Abhur. Many are renowned for their preserved Red Sea marine life and offshore coral reefs.

Popular destination is the “Maldives of Jeddah,” the island of Biadiyah. It is characterized by its clear turquoise waters, soft white sands, colorful coral reefs, diverse marine life, and refreshing atmosphere reminiscent of the Maldives. This resemblance has led residents of the city to give it this nickname.

Other activities

Enjoy some of the best arts in the world through Jeddah museums

Founded by Sheikh Abdul Raouf Khalil in 1996, Abdul Raouf Khalil Museum not only presents the rich Islamic cultural heritage of the city but also its pre-Islamic history that goes back to 2500 years; it traces the various civilizations that inhabited the region. 

Bait Nassif, that once was resided by King Abdulaziz AlSaud in 1925AD, has been transformed into a museum and a cultural center for the Kingdom’s history.  One of the ancient houses in Jeddah has been renovated to what is now called House of Jeddah and Our Good Days museum. It has wonderfully preserved all its belonging as if it was a time capsule for Al-Balad ‎area.

For a fascinating look into Jeddah’s long and cosmopolitan past, take a trip to the Tayebat Museum for a superbly curated representation of the city’s 2,500-year history. Located in the Al Faisaliyah district, the museum is housed in a multiroom complex that re-creates the traditional Hijazi architecture of the old city, with bay windows overlaid with intricate wooden lattice work and ornate coral masonry.


A lot to consider when thinking of shopping.

Jeddah Boulevard houses a vast selection of superb prestigious brands, the finest international restaurants, and several prominent famous cafes. Your stop at Red Sea Mall will lead you to enjoy an unparalleled shopping experience, being one of the largest shopping malls on the west coast of the Kingdom. Mall of Arabia is located 10 minutes from the airport and offers visitors a wide range of modern boutiques, from international brands to local designs and unique discoveries, with about 408 shops and stores. Located on Prince Muhammad Bin Abdulaziz Street near The Hotel Galleria By Elaf, Jeddah Park is one of the newest and largest shopping and entertainment centers in the city.

King Abdullah Economic City – a vibrant modern destination

I haven’t been here but according to VisitSaudi, King Abdullah Economic City is one of the most important economic cities in the world. The city boasts a modern lifestyle, destinations that encourage tranquility and relaxation, and modern living details. It is one of the newest cities in Saudi Arabia, established in 2005 by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and has become one of the most important entertainment destinations visited by millions of visitors. The city is covered with green spaces and features King Abdullah Port, the fastest-growing port in the world, as well as family-friendly activities such as luxurious resorts, locally styled accommodations, and water activities on stunning beaches.

Time out to contemplate nature in Yanbu

One in my bucketlist is Yanbu, the capital of diving in Saudi Arabia. Accoridng to VisitSaudi, there are three sections intervene in Yanbu forming small amazing independent “cities” which are Yanbu Al Bahr, Yanbu Al Nakhal, and Yanbu Industrial, each of which has its own captivating details. Yanbu Al Nakhal has a rich history as it was a resting point for convoys between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, and the Mediterranean Sea.  Yanbu Industrial, on the other hand, has oil facilities and Yanbu Industrial Lake which is similar to a natural oasis. Yanbu Al Bahr is in the heart of the city and holds beautiful archaeological buildings made of mud and stones, and historical sites going back hundreds of years, such as Souq Al Layl, Senussi Mosque, handicraft shops, and folk restaurants serving local dishes with original flavours. Also awaiting you in Yanbu Al Bahr are great opportunities for water sports such as water skiing, and boat riding, as well as being known as a magical destination for diving lovers, where you can dive in the Red Sea and explore its nature rich with coral and divergent sea life.

Where to eat

Madhoun, a good Saudi friend, always takes us to seafood restaurants everytime I visit Jeddah. There are too many to mention, they are everywhere. The seafood restaurants allow you to enjoy your new catch as you prefer, with takeaway and eat-in options. Simply head in and advise how you’d like it cooked (grilled or fried) and choose from sides that include salad, hummus, and baba ghanoush. If you have favorite seafood restaurants, let me know so I can feature them here. For the meantime, allow me to feature local restaurants with different kinds of offerings.

OBO Beach House

Located at Jeddah Yacht Club, it offers contemporary Italian Seafood along with Japanese cuisine.  They offer a choice of salads, pizzas, sushi, wagyu steak and Seabass along with a range of desserts including strawberry cheesecake and chocolate crepe rolls. If you like having shisha, you can have it here. Starters would cost from SAR65 to SAR95, pizza would range from SAR65 to SAR115, Japanese menu from SAR40 to SAR55. Main courses start from SAR65, wagyu being the most pricy at SAR285.


Dank’s chain of restaurants was established in 2017 in Jeddah and then expanded to cover several areas . It is distinguished by making sandwiches and presenting them in its own unique way. 


If you are a fan of Mediterranean cuisine, then this is for you. Whether you’re sitting indoors or outdoors, you’ll be surprised by its interior. Looks fancy but it’s cheaper than you would expect. Main courses range from SAR85 to SAR180. Shisha is also available here.


Want to be in a yacht and have some coffee there? Why not try this unique restaurant at Jeddah Yacht Club as it offers seating both in their restaurant as well as on their own restaurant yacht. Karamna at Jeddah Yact Club is a Lebanese restaurant that offers average Lebanese dishes such as mezzes, mixed grill and sheesh taouk.  

ANGELS Restaurant & Cafe

If you are into Instagrammable places, I bet you will like this place. And if you like the concept of brunch, then this is for you. In their menu are innovative dishes and drinks like Wavocado (two pieces of waffle covered with avocado mixture and topped with two poached eggs with hollandaise sauce, served with salad with lemon sauce). Brunch dishes are around SAR35-60.

Six Thirty Cafe

How about a nice view during your breakfast? This cafe can offer you that aside from its trendy plating of dishes.

Other restaurants

If you are into international cuisines, I suggest Wakame Lounge Restaurant, Gold Sushi Club Restaurant, Sakura Restaurant, Chef’s Burger, Poké Ball Restaurant, Agave, Caffe Aroma, and Qamreya.

Where to stay

There are a lot of options but my favorite so far is Movenpickpick Jeddah City Star. I always use its steam bath and jacuzzi every night before my checkout day.

If you are looking for an apartment hotel, Spectrums Al Salamah is one to consider. Radisson Blu Hotel, Jeddah Al Salam is fine but they need to improve its breakfast buffet. I stayed there for a week – the food options where consistently the same for five days.

If you are looking for luxury hotels – Jeddah Hilton Hotel, Sheraton Jeddah, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Hyatt Park – Jeddah Hotel, and Shangri-La Jeddah Hotel – are there. Budget hotels to consider are Shada Hotel and Boud’l Apartment Hotels.

The sun may set but exploring Hejaz and Jeddah continues. It’s evident that this region offers an abundance of summer activities and resorts to suit every traveler’s desires. Whether you seek relaxation in the luxurious confines of beachside resorts along the Red Sea, or adrenaline-fueled adventures exploring the rugged landscapes of the Hejaz mountains, there’s something here for everyone. But beyond the exhilarating activities and picturesque landscapes, it’s the diversity of Jeddah that truly leaves a lasting impression. Jeddah epitomizes inclusivity and unity in the midst of diversity.

I am not bidding farewell to this captivating region yet. This blog post will continue to be updated. For other cities and provinces in the Kingdom, visit my Saudi Arabia Travel Guide.

Saudi Arabia Travel Guide
Al Bahah
Asir Region
Eastern Region



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Jeddah Yacht Club & Marina
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King Abdullah Economic City
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OBO Beach House


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Six Thirty Cafe

ANGELS Restaurant & Cafe


Movenpick Jeddah City Star

About the Author

Paul Michael Jaramillo
Paul Michael JaramilloChief Executive Editor
PJ is a CPA, writer, storyteller, environment and youth advocate. As a writer, his articles on national development were published in a Spanish newspaper and local news network Rappler. As a storyteller and environment advocate, his documentary films on mining and environment were featured by ABS-CBN News and GMA News. He launched his career as a CPA at KPMG in the Philippines in late 2015. He started his professional journey as an external auditor of a global workspace provider (the largest audit client of KPMG in the Philippines), global bank, leading MFCG in the Philippines and a number of shared service centres. As an auditor, his team won the KPMG Asia-Pacific Data & Analytics Challenge and coached the Philippine team that placed third to the KPMG GlobalRunner Cup. More than two years later, he led KPMG in the Philippines’ Network of Audit Innovators and Data & Analytics Champions and its academic arm, while serving as a member of the KPMG Asia-Pacific Audit Digital Transformation Workstream. He served as a member of the Audit Methodology Group and Root Cause Analysis Team of KPMG in the Philippines. He was a regular training facilitator of KPMG on audit methodology, innovation, data and analytics, professional standards and regulatory updates. He also served as a coach for newly promoted supervisors. PJ was also the Firm’s System of Quality Management Implementation Manager and a Workforce of the Future Champion. He was also a Sampling Specialist of the Firm. In 2019, PJ was a member of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA)’s Technical Working Group on Audit Methodology. PJ led in developing some of the innovative solutions of KPMG in the Philippines. Above all, PJ is a people investor. He invests on people who have potential and talents. That makes him a coach and mentor to some young professionals in the profession and served as a People Committee member of KPMG in the Philippines. He leads advocacy projects that help communities. He produces vlogs thru his YouTube channel, PJspirations which features stories of different individuals. As a volunteer, he is the Academic Master and Head Coach of PREMIER International Learning and Development Center, which provides coaching, mentoring, training and learning programs and platforms that promote growth and development in every individual’s life and career. He is also with the Middle East and Caspian regions of KPMG as a member of its Professional Practice group and Audit L&D for the Saudi Levant Cluster, providing subject matter knowledge and guidance on audit methodology, and learning and development programs to its offices. He is a proud Ilocano and a graduate of Northwestern University.

He also conducts #IamRemarkable sessions, a program initiated by Google for women and underrepresented groups.