Cementing love — Old Jeddawis recount how they preserve neighborly relations

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Jeddah Market

JEDDAH, like many of the Kingdom’s major cities, has seen unprecedented growth and expansion in record time. For many of the city’s elderly residents, this growth means a struggle to preserve their traditional way of living, away from hectic city life.

They are keen to protect their inherited values of maintaining neighborly relations, sharing moments of joy and grief and helping each other out. And while their homes may lack most of the modern facilities and luxuries enjoyed by the many, their lives are replete with joy, satisfaction and tranquility.

The historic neighborhoods of Jeddah’s downtown Balad district are one of the few remaining places where tradition and culture thrive. “Here, in the middle of the hustle and bustle of city life, we are living in complete peace of mind and tranquility. We are leading a simple life in our traditional homes and have bonds with each other that go back decades,” said Ahmad Hassan, one of the oldest residents of Jeddah.

According to Hassan, all residents of his neighborhood treat one another like brothers. “When any resident leaves the city on travel, he can be fully confident that his family members will be in safe hands, thanks to the alertness and caring attention of neighbors.”

Echoing the same view, Abdullah Saeedi, another resident, recalled an incident where a fire broke out in his home while he was away.

“Immediately, youths from the neighborhood rose to the occasion by rushing to my house to put out the fire. Ever since childhood, we have been leading a life full of love, mutual support and good neighborliness, all of which are alien concepts in posh districts of the city. People here enjoy full peace and tranquility and are always ready to help and support each other,” he said.

“Those who look at our old houses from outside may not see and fathom the depth of our love and friendship. We all are living like members of a single family and more than that, like a single body. We share moments of joy and grief, and support each other in hour of need,” he added.

Residents say they spend their days having meals together, chatting and sharing experiences until the early hours of the morning, traditions they inherited from their ancestors and want the next generation to preserve.

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