Over the years, no Saudi city has been more open to outside influencers such as traders, international artists and Makkah-bound pilgrims than the ancient port of Jeddah. Indeed, the city’s unofficial motto is “Jeddah ghair,
” or “Jeddah’s different.” Today, Jeddah is Saudi Arabia’s buzzing cosmopolitan hub, home to gleaming hotels and big-ticket events like the Red Sea International Film Festival
, which takes place in late winter. The city’s heart is still intact in Al Balad, the magical historical quarter that has undergone a renaissance in recent years. And the Red Sea is still central to it all — for trade, for diving among pristine reefs, and for fishing for Jeddah’s legendary seafood. The city where Eve was laid to rest (according to local lore) is a beguiling mix of old and new, and one that remains gloriously different.