No Saudi city is as diverse as Jeddah, and this is amply reflected in its boundless cultural scene. Look, for example, at the iconic sculptures by the likes of Joan Miro and Henry Moore that speckle the Corniche waterfront, or at the challenging work of contemporary Saudi artists that show at the Athr Gallery. See also the Darat Safeya Binzagr gallery, the life’s work of the Jeddah artist Safeya Binzagr, who was the first Saudi woman to hold a solo exhibition back in 1968.
It is also a city of near-constant reinvention. In Al Balad, perhaps the Kingdom’s most evocative historical quarter, ancient coral stone houses are being restored, and new heritage-focused galleries, woodwork workshops and cafes are springing up in once-derelict buildings. While Al Balad’s labyrinthine Souq Al Alawi feels like a trip to the past, the box-like Gucci and Prada stores at the Boulevard shopping plaza to the north gleam like the future. This is Jeddah: a complex tapestry of history and culture, from the Hijaz region and far beyond, but always with an eye on tomorrow.