6 October 2016

Jeddah Corniche

Jeddah is a coastal city and, as such, has an extensive waterfront.  The corniche is divided up into a number of discrete sections, all slightly different in character and all equally charming and enjoyable.  One of our favourite parts is the Middle Corniche Park.  This is quite some way from our home and can take up to half an hour to get there but it is worth it. 

Enjoying the scenery at the Corniche Park
Nestled at the end of Falastin (Palestine) street, this park is home to some quite tracts of grass, a walk way, some play grounds, sculpture and views over the King Fahd fountain.  We like to go down towards evening time, aiming to get to the park about 15 minutes before sunset prayers.  This gives us time to get a bottle of water or an ice cream from a snack vendor before they close up.

There are plenty of vendors selling treats for children
and picnic essentials like cushions and carpets.
As non Muslims we are, of course, not required to do anything other than not disturb those at their devotions.  All shops close down by law and restaurants close their doors to new customers.  In the park roll out carpets are available for those who wish to pray.  We tend to take the opportunity to walk quietly through the park, enjoying the scenery and the sunset.  The gardens are well maintained and full of sculptures although to my untutored eye they do not  appear to be the best quality.

The park is quiet during prayer time
But full of life at other times.
As prayers come to an end families break out picnics and barbeques on the lawns, children cycle or roller-skate down the path, married couples stroll hand in hand and hopeful young men cast their fishing lines.  In the cooler weather you see people out for a run, men in their sports wear and sometimes even the odd woman in her abaya (although given the difficulty of running in one women tend more towards power walking).

The park is a pleasant place for a romantic stroll

Strange sculptures abound

We are not even sure what these are!
Sunsets in Jeddah are often less than spectacular; we don’t get enough cloud cover for the really striking skies that I loved in Brighton, another seaside town I called home for many years.  Nevertheless it is the best time to enjoy the spectacle that is the King Fahd fountain.  Built in the 1980s it is the tallest fountain in the world, shooting seawater up to around 300m high.  It is so imposing that can be seen from the aircraft as they come in to land at the airport and it can be seen at the other end of town (if you are high enough).

Children play in the many well equipped parks

People gather to enjoy convivial evenings
This section of the corniche is only a few kilometres long so once we have walked to the end and back we just have time to nip into a restaurant on Falastin before they close the doors for the night time prayers.

Sunset is the best time to enjoy views of the fountain
It dominates this part of town

This park is, for us, a perfect example of how life here is like and yet unlike anywhere else.  People enjoy the seafront in seaside towns around the world.  Watching children eat cotton candy and learn to roller-skate on promenades (as I did in Brighton all those years ago) and seeing couples stroll and families barbeque it could be the seaside in Miri, the riverside in Astana; and yet… it is quintessentially Arabia.

Posted as part of the Travel at Home Blog Link Up

Ersatz Expat

For more posts on life as an Expat in Saudi Arabia please click on the photo below

Ersatz Expat


  1. When we moved to France I found it hard enough adapting to the fact that most shops close for a long lunchtime break. Closing for prayers would probably take me even more time to adapt to although I would enjoy having the parks almost to myself. Have you found it easy to adapt to life in Saudi? #TravelAtHome

  2. Oh that French lunchtime break is so annoying! Prayer times are actually not too bad. We have 'phone apps to tell us when prayers start and if we are out we either make sure we are in a restaurant or shop that allows browsing with the doors closed (it is a brilliant time to blitz a supermarket shop) or just enjoy a stroll.