Jeddah, an ever-changing city, has come a long way, from its humble beginnings as a fishing village to its current stature as a thriving metropolitan area. From a sleepy fishing village to a strategic fort and today a thriving metropolis that has managed to preserve its heritage while adapting to the modern world.
In the old neighborhood of Bab Makkah, also known as Makkah Gate, you'll find one such market that is ancient in all of Jeddah. It has been the main gateway to Jeddah's ancient city for almost 500 years and has seen its fair share of history. This stunning landmark proudly marks the beginning of the path to Makkah, the holiest city in Islam. All pilgrims used to pass through the gate before beginning their journey of faith, which contributed to its prestigious status.
Nearby, along its whole 230-meter length at night, is an open-air market, accessible through a gate. Bab Makkah's market atmosphere is always entertaining, with cars deftly dodging pedestrians and carts, a row of lamb skulls lined up next to a rice cooker, vendors either proudly striking a pose for tourists' cameras or nervously ducking out of the way, and children playing with a football amidst the bustle.
- Although the limestone coral border wall surrounding Baab Makkah has vanished, the majestic gate still stands and is a significant draw for visitors. The imposing replica, which features three arches, is framed by two massive, round towers.
- Trees and plants of various heights, including palm trees, have been planted along the island separating the lanes of traffic and are protected by the overhanging roof (divided highway). Finely trimmed boxwood lines the perimeter of neatly landscaped gardens surrounded by curved and perimeter fences, parking lots, and other ancillary structures that combine to form a sprawling complex.
- As the sun goes down, vendors begin setting up their makeshift stands and carts next to the established businesses. The friendly atmosphere among the shopkeepers and locals balances out the hustle and bustle of the street, making each visit to this old marketplace unique.
- Meat and food merchants dominate the Baab Makkah market strip, which leads to Jeddah's other well-known souks, such as Souk Al-Badu and Souk Al-Alawi. Authentic Saudi dishes like kibdah, raas mandi, makadim, bukhari rice with lamb's skull, and qulub may be found in the eateries tucked away on a side street. These dishes are reminiscent of the plain cuisine of the Bedouins and the exotic spices of ancient Arabia.
- You may find a wide selection of domestic and international goods among the many fruit and vegetable stands dotted around the region. Locals and visitors visit this district regularly in search of quality goods at competitive costs.