Investors realize tourism potential of old Jeddah

Vendors in traditional attire sell street food in Jeddah's Balad district in this Ramadan photo.

Vendors in traditional attire sell street food in Jeddah’s Balad district in this Ramadan photo.

Investors are eying Jeddah’s downtown historical area thanks to the high turnout of visitors during Ramadan and the summer season.

Several businessmen have reportedly been considering opening cafes and restaurants following the successful run of festivals and events held in the area.

Shops and eateries vastly benefited from the visitor influx, describing it as a pleasant surprise as they get ready to welcome thousands of pilgrims coming for Haj.

The festivals, which had been organized by the Jeddah Municipality, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) and the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), played a vital role in reviving tourism in the area, recently dubbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Both local and foreign tourists frequented the area, which needs to be made more family-friendly, according to experts.

“Downtown Jeddah became a magnet for many of the city’s residents this year, encouraging local businessmen to open eateries that match the historical style of the area,” Ali Salme, a Saudi businessman with several investments in the tourism sector, told Arab News.

“These eateries and cafes are not suitable for families, which is why businessmen need to invest in opening restaurants that accommodate this essential market segment,” he said.

For many Jeddah residents, the area helps foster business activity with pilgrims, who bring with them items from their home countries to sell.

Umrah and Haj pilgrims also hunt for souvenirs and gifts to take back home to their loved ones despite the fact that most of these items are available locally.

Pilgrims spend an estimated SR800 million on gold and SR8 billion on gifts annually, according to local media.

Jeddah’s summer festival attracted more than 750,000 guests this year.


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