Jeddah is one of the most important ports in Arabia. The town is said to have had inhabitants for nearly 3,000 years [1]. During the time that the Prophet Mohammed was alive, Islam was brought to the town. In medieval periods, it was common for merchants to stop here because it was on the route to India and Africa. The area became a hub for trade, which it still is today. Also, people coming from southern Arabia and current day Yemen would stop here on their way to Medina. In 1925, King Ibn Saud placed Jeddah under his rule. The entire country of Saudi Arabia was formally unified in 1932.

Ibn Battuta was briefly in Jeddah. He went there after his second Hajj. He was only there to board a ship and go to eastern Africa, but in his book he recalls an interesting story from while he was there. A beggar man came up to Ibn Battuta and called him by name. He then asked him “Where is the ring?” and this was odd to Ibn Battuta because when he was in Mecca another poor man asked him for alms, so he gave him a ring. When the beggar man in Jeddah asked him where the ring was, he was shocked. The man proceeded to tell Ibn Battuta to get the ring back because it had family secrets in it. Ibn Battuta never got the ring back and never found out who this man was, but the story was so mystical that it stuck with him until he could create his Rihla. After this experience, Ibn Battuta moved on to Mogadishu and the horn of Africa.

Jeddah, located on the western side of Saudi Arabia, is still a hub for trade and commerce. Jeddah is different from many other parts of Saudi Arabia. Mecca, Medina, and Riyadh are all very conservative due to their religious sanctity, but Jeddah is not as conservative. Saudi Arabia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world due to its oil production, and Jeddah has some of the wealthier Saudis living there. Jeddah continues to be the large port for Saudi Arabia that it was during the time when Ibn Battuta visited.



[1]¬†Jeddah Municipality, “About Jeddah City .” Last modified July 25, 2012. Accessed July 25, 2012.