Al Balad: 18 photos of Jeddah's vibrant historical neighbourhood

It was once the beating heart of Jeddah, and it has retained its charm

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Nestled in the city of Jeddah, this historical neighbourhood is one of Saudi Arabia’s World Heritage Sites. The area, made up of a rabbit warren of streets, has a fascinating history.

It was founded in the seventh century and was once the beating heart of Jeddah, the country’s second-largest city.

The town was formed as an ancient trading port and acted as the primary gateway to Makkah.

Today, it is famous for its more than 400 historical buildings, the majority of which are from the 19th century. They are mostly crafted from coral-stone and decorated with intricate latticed windows. The National's Reem Mohammed visited the area recently to capture photos of life in its streets.

It is now home primarily to residents from Yemen, Africa, India and Pakistan: and the real joy of the area is its people.

Pass by the children’s corner where little ones bounce on trampolines and teenagers crowd around video screens installed outside on the park walls. Ask and they’ll let you join in. Buy some grapes from the sellers pushing the old carts around the streets and you can expect some friendly banter. Even the men playing dominoes in the street, where the games get decidedly heated, aren’t averse to company.

Visiting Al Balad soon? Our guide to 9 things to do in Jeddah's oldest neighbourhood will help you navigate the area.