The Character of Old Jeddah and Place Identity: Harmonizing New Developments with the Historic District and the Outlook for the Future

Tawfiq M. Abu Ghazzeh


A recent concern in urban development is how old traditional areas of cities could be developed to meet changing functional and technical needs while at the same time preserving the character and identity of historic districts. The purpose of the research is to investigate how new developments, rehabilitation and improvements of the built environment can be fitted into the Historic District of Old Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. What are the present concerns and the issues that need to be addressed? Old Jeddah was first developed in 646 AD (26 AH) by the third caliph ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan as a sea port serving pilgrims traveling to Makkah. In 2014, it was registered by the UNESCO as a world heritage site. This research is based on field investigation. Fieldwork has focused on the review of the present conditions of the built environment in Old Jeddah, the character of the town form and how recent developments and building practices are made within the urban context of the Historic District. This research finds that the built environment in the Historic District of Jeddah is deteriorating. Recent developments within the urban fabric of the old area and on sites that are located in the immediate vicinity of the historic area, lack harmony with the identifiable character and quality of the traditional setting. Conclusions of this research emphasize that the development, conservation, and rehabilitation of the Historic District in Jeddah, and in other urban areas that houses historic sites in general, need to protect the character of the urban fabric and the identity of traditional places.


Jeddah, historic district, identity, conservation, rehabilitation

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