Jeddah was first settled as a small fishing village on the Red Sea in about 500 BC. As the closest seaport to both Mecca and Medina, two of the holiest cities in Islam, Jeddah also became a center of commerce as well as the gateway for those traveling to Mecca for Hajj, the religious pilgrimage required of all Muslims. Since about 1940 after the discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia, Jeddah has experienced a tremendous and continuous growth spurt, from an estimated 1950 population of about 30,000 jumping to approximately 3.5 million in 2011. The oldest part of the city is called Al Balad, where many of the buildings are crumbling and are in a sad state of disrepair. Surprisingly enough, many of these buildings are still inhabited by the very poor, most of them foreign workers from nearby underdeveloped countries. Notice the satellite dishes.