Saturday, February 29, 2020

Modern Buildings of Jeddah

The city of Jeddah is rich in architecture, both old and new.  This post shares some of the newer architectural styles around the city - as you can see, blue glass is a favorite here.  The modern architecture of Jeddah features unusual shapes, curves and geometrics. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

SkyWatch - Colorful Jeddah Sunset

Taken from the rooftop of our building a few days ago.  

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Jeddah Memories of Days Gone By

Al Balad is the oldest sector of Jeddah where a largescale effort to preserve Saudi culture and heritage is ongoing.  Several old family homes have been restored and are open to visitors.  Above a family of antique dallah pots sits on a ledge in front of an arched Arabesque geometrical window design. 

The fabrics of traditional Saudi style seating is often red geometric designs.  I adore the Middle Eastern hanging lamps. They are everywhere here.

I've never seen a sewing machine like this one, have you?  I've seen some really interesting old antiques machines, products, and kitchen gadgets here in Saudi Arabia.    

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Huge Incense Burner

It's not unusual to see enormous incense burners everywhere you go around the city of Jeddah.  Many of them are situated in business areas, outside of shops, and are actually used to burn incense.  Quite often though the over sized incense burners are just for decoration.  This kitty cat has found another purpose for this large incense burner - as a comfortable place to take a cat nap.  I think the cat uses it often for this purpose, as someone has placed a piece of cardboard to line the inside to make it more homey for the tired feline.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Our World - Jeddah Gold Souk

One of the most popular purchases of visitors to Saudi Arabia is gold jewelry.  Why, you might ask?  There are several factors at play here, making gold a better value in Saudi Arabia.  The Magic Kingdom is the largest manufacturer and supplier of gold jewelry in the whole region of the Middle East. The quality of the gold available here can be found in higher karat content than in many places around the globe.

Another reason is that competition is fierce, with business districts of many places having a large and thriving gold industry.   Also, taxes are lower as well, at a nominal 5% VAT.  Added to these reasons is the fact that labor costs are cheap here in Saudi Arabia. with gold manufacturers and gold souks frequently staffed by a labor force imported from less affluent countries in Asia. 

Many of the gold fashions of Saudi Arabia are heavy, intricate, and bulky, and much of it could be described as gaudy.  Since the gold content of many pieces is higher, it appears bright yellow in color.
Lately though there has been a problem reported in Saudi Arabia, with religious pilgrims (short term visitors to the kingdom who tend to purchase gold when visiting) becoming the target of gold scams and being sold inferior quality gold as pure gold (24K).

- Check the gold rate - it fluctuates daily
- Pay cash, if possible. Purchasers have more bargaining power if they don't use a credit card.
- Take along someone who speaks Arabic, if you can. It will make negotiating a lower price easier.
- Go to the local gold souks, where you will likely get a better price than at mall shops.

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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sharshaf Salah - Women's Prayer Dress

Muslim women usually pray at home, and when they do, they usually throw on a special dress for prayer over the normal clothing they are wearing. In Saudi Arabia, this prayer dress is called "Sharshaf Salah."   For prayer, Islam requires that women cover every part of their bodies except the face and the hands.

The sharshaf comes in many different styles and fabrics, and is most often a one piece loose flowing garment, including an attached scarf or hood to cover the hair.  They can be found in most souks and are reasonably priced.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Jeddah - A Peek at Prayer Time

Maghrib is the 4th prayer of the day for Muslims and it takes place at sundown.  There is one more prayer then a little later in the evening, making a total of five prayers daily.  Men can be seen rushing to the mosque for prayers, removing their shoes before entering.  Women usually pray at home.  Most mosques usually have cubby holes outside for shoes, but I rarely see them being used - I don't know why.

There is a call to prayer announced over loudspeakers from each mosques, alerting Muslims to get ready. Ablution is a requirement preceding prayer, which is a specific prescribed manner of properly washing up before praying and includes washing parts of the body with water in a certain order.  Mosques also provide an area outside the mosque where ablution can be performed.

The prayer then begins, and inevitably there will be latecomers.  Many mosques are located in residential neighborhoods as well as in business areas.  There is always a mosque within walking distance in most places. 

When the prayer concludes, the streets are filled with men leaving the mosque as they return to their homes or workplaces.  You can see the two shops to the left closed for prayer with only a piece of fabric covering up the front of the shop. 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

SkyWatch - Looking Up in Jeddah's Al Balad

The past couple of months, I have visited Jeddah's Old Town, called Al Balad, many times and at various times of the day and evening.  Looking back on my photos, I was struck by the variety of shots I got of differing skies.  The first photo was taken at the Blue Hour, when the day is drawing to a close and the sky seems to light up right before the darkness of the evening arrives.  I love the strong yellow and blue of this pic as well as the little puffs of clouds dotting the sky, seemingly being pointed out by the palm trees and the corner of building top.

This older building of Al Balad is currently being renovated. You can see how the roshan (wooden window coverings) are being supported by plywood. The cement facade of its walls have crumbled away in areas, exposing the crude brick undrneath. The overhang from a neighboring building adds a framing effect to that side of the photo.

These last two were early morning photos.  Above is a newer building in Al Balad and below is a beautifully designed mosque with a lovely minaret.  I was happy with the skies in all these photos and couldn't choose just one for SkyWatch.

To  visit MORE friendly skies around the world, fly on over to SKYWATCH  where you’ll find beautiful skies posted by bloggers all over the world.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Jeddah Closed Shops - and Trust

Here in the land of Islam, it is not unusual to see small shops closed up with mere fabric draped over the entryway or the products, instead of some kind of lock and key set up. 

Theft is not very common here and that might be because of the threat of stiffer punishments for breaking the law.  Many small shopowners trust that their wares will be left alone and remain undisturbed until they open back up. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Jeddah Women Shopping in Al Balad

While many expat women living in Jeddah have shed the once obligatory abaya in favor of normal modest clothing, many Saudi women still wear the traditional flowy black abaya when out in public. 

There are some younger modern Saudi women who have broken with tradition and no longer even cover their hair, but for the most part, many still conform to the cultural norms. 

I'm seeing fewer women wearing the facial veil, called niqab, but there are plenty who still don that too.  The last photo features a woman wearing the ultra conservative head to toe abaya, called jilbaab, which totally obscures the female form altogether, where even her shoulders are difficult to make out. 

Monday, February 17, 2020

Our World - Miswak for Dental Hygiene

Miswak is derived from the branches of a certain tree and its twigs have been used for over 7000 years as a tool for dental hygiene in the Middle East and other Muslim populated areas of the world.  Not only do they have value as a toothbrush, miswak has been proven to have antibacterial properties, is helpful in the prevention and reduction of plaque, strengthens the gums, and prevents tooth decay and bad breath.  It is also endorsed Islamically.  Not bad for a simple product that comes from tree branches, huh?

Miswak can be purchased in small bundles that are cut to about 6 inches or so in length. Each twig can vary in its diameter, with the smallest size being about the width of a piece of cooked spaghetti.  The biggest size would be about the circumference of a tube of lipstick, while the most common size is about the width of a pencil.  Miswak is very inexpensive and is very easily purchased by vendors on the street here.

Be sure to visit OUR WORLD TUESDAY, where family-friendly bloggers share a unique glimpse into what life is like all around our ever-amazing planet.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

More Doors of Al Balad

Enjoy more of these unusual doors from Al Balad, in the oldest sector of the city of Jeddah.  Which one is your favorite? The one with the elegant colorful illuminated arch above it? 

Or is it the lacy cutout door and vent above it painted sky blue?  Or perhaps you prefer the rustic charm of the graffitied baby pink metal door with blue flowers below, with the old time green street signs next to it?  Note how the vent area above the door has been covered over by an unsightly piece of plywood.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Jeddah Men at Work

Countless small shops in Jeddah sell only scarves. They all seem to carry very similar styles and colors, so I don't know how they manage to compete with one another. Their prices all seem to be very similar as well. 

All of these shops are well organized and tidy - and they somehow manage to display as many scarves as they possibly can.