Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; My Trip of Firsts

Jeddah the gateway to Mecca is said to be the largest cultural melting pot in the world, and that this is the reason for its chilled vibe.  I don’t know if this is true, but I do know that in the almost 4 yeas that I’ve lived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that those 3 days I spent in Jeddah were relaxed I’ve ever felt in the the Kingdom.

I call this visit to Jeddah “My Trip of Firsts.”   It starts with the trip itself, it was the first time that I’ve traveled around Saudi Arabia and it was my first time to Jeddah. On my way to the private terminal (I was flying corporate; gotta love that!) we past a herd of wild camels.  I was like OMG!!   It was so cool.  Unfortunately my camera was in my bag that was in the trunk of the car. 🙁  Oh Well…next time. But, it was my first time seeing a herd of camels.

Our room was right on the corniche with a view of the Red Sea. We stayed at the Jeddah Hilton.  Which I would recommend, and I would stay there again.  All of the staff that I had interactions with were pleasant and helpful.  My pet peeves with this spot: I would expect an American hotel chain (that accommodates both male and female business travelers) to have the “Man Section” of the hotel clearly identified, and their fee for the internet ($10/hr or $40/day) feels like rape.  But…what could I do, I paid it.

Once I started to unpack my bags, I realized that I had done another first.  I had left the house and forgot every single charger I would need.  LOL That’s two chargers for my phones and one charger for my camera. Oh yea, and the battery that was in the camera had one bar of energy left, and I left the charged back up battery I always carry at home as well.  I have never ever forgotten so many things.  I think I’ve been doing so much traveling lately that I’ve gotten lacks in my departure procedures.

The following photo is the view from my room.  The deal is I spaced it and didn’t let my camera acclimate (cold inside the room and 100 degrees +75% humidity on the balcony) and I got lens fog.  But, at least you can see my view.  Nice huh?

Room with a Lens Fog View

Before I arrived in Jeddah, I put out the question on FB as to whether I should go or not and whether or not it was wort the hassle.  Considering I had just gotten back home after traveling around the US for the last 5 months (Jan – May), I just want to relax for a minute.  Well…the consensus was that I should go.  And, out of those responses one turned into a dinner invitation from two American expats living in Jeddah, who were followers of Black Chick in Saudi on FB.  Susie (Susie of Arabia) and I had actually had a few exchanges via email.  This was starting to sound fun, and I already had a play date set up.

On my play date we went for dinner at Il Villlaggio.  I completely enjoyed hanging out with these two ladies.  After much food and enjoying the double apple flavored sheesha, the next thing we knew 4 hours had passed.  🙂  So, here I was again, at another first.  First of all, I had never eaten out in public in Saudi Arabia.  Yea…I know.  But, where I live at I don’t know of any good places and I hate chain food (i.e. Chili’s, Applebees, Red Lobster, McDonalds, etc.), so unless I go to Bahrain, I just cook.  I’m not adventurous with my food.    Well…not only did I go out to dinner, I smoked sheesha on a restaurant deck over looking Al Andalus Street, I was able to loosen up as if I were not in Saudi Arabia.  Another first.

Dining Alfresco in Jeddah

Smoking Sheesha

The next day we hired a car to take us to Old Jeddah.  We walked the streets, took photos, and meandered through the sougs of Al-Balad.   Sadly the old houses are unkept and dilapidated.

Old Building in Al-Balad District Jeddah

Old Big Building in Al-Balad

View from old wooden bridge over Al-Dahab St in Al-Balad

As I was taking photos of one of the old city gates (Jadeed Gate)  and I heard some thing kinda slamming down, so I walked over to the side of the gate and there before my eyes were a group of older men slamming down dominoes. I couldn’t believe it!!  These guys were slamming dominoes down like they were Black at a backyard BBQ.  I couldn’t believe the scene.  I think they saw the curiousity in my staring and invited us over. I asked if I could take a photo and they all turned for me. It was so cool. Which again was another first!!

Older Men Playing Dominoes

Upper Jadeed Gate Al-Balad Jeddah

On my last day in Jeddah, I had two hours between my late check out and the arrival of the car to take me to the airport so I thought I would just hang out in the hotel lobby.  After setting up my computer and getting comfortable, I was told this was the men’s section and they escorted me to some dark closed in room, that was the family section.  I’m like “How was I suppose to know? There’s no sign!”  So, that was another first, I got kicked out of the man section.  LOL

I completely enjoyed my time in Jeddah and look forward to visiting again in the future.

Sun Setting over Jeddah as I Leave

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About Terri Lundberg

Terri Lundberg is an American expat currently residing with her husband in Saudi Arabia, but she calls Seattle and San Diego home. She’s a travel writer, an avid photographer and is a resource and cross cultural trainer to expats relocating to Saudi Arabia. She's been to 100 destinations, 30 countries, and counting.


  1. Linda Kloss says:

    I love your videos. Just read your blog about Jeddah. I think it is great that you get information out to the world about Saudi Arabia. I’ve always wanted to go there — so different & exotic/love camels, etc etc. But then again, a woman getting kicked out of a shopping mall in Rhyiad? Too scary. And ‘accidentally’ being in a nice room for men only – and having to go into an enclosed ‘family room’? Culture shock city. Thanks for your very interesting videos and blogs. You are brave.

    • Thanks Linda for stopping by. For sure, Saudi Arabia is “interesting.” Their culture is pretty much the exact opposite of ours in America; which can be challenging at times. However, Jeddah was a pleasant surprise. If you want a real culture shock, I hear you have to go to Riyadh. I hear it’s bad…so bad in fact that I will not go there. See…I”m not too brave. LOL 🙂

      Have a Great Day!!

  2. hey, i LOVE your videos, i wish you still did them! for some reason i really want to visit Saudi so love watching your videos and reading your blog!
    i have heard Riyadh is the most conservative place ever, married couples wont even hold hands in case the muttawa catch them! i’d like to visit Jeddah most i think 🙂
    God Bless 🙂

    • Thank you. Funny thing is, I just made a series of videos on “Women in Saudi” for another group, so I’m not posting them. I may make something soon. I hear Riyadh is insane, which is why I have not interest what-so-ever in having that cultural experience.

      Thanks for your kind words an have a great day!!

  3. Hi ..
    I’m from Jeddah & I’m soo happy you’ve got a great time in my city
    Loooove Il Villaggio my favorita
    Thank you to showing american our country

    God bless you

  4. Hello,

    i am an ESL teacher and I have just been offered a year contract in Jeddah. I have lived in China for years, Spain, Portugal so I can handle a fair degree of culture shock. What I cant handle is not going out to dance/see/play live music. I do not need techno clubs and drinking just music culture native and Jazz. Is that a possibility or a pipe dream?

    I was also wondering your or anyone take on being a black male in these countries. I was wondering how the relationship with Africans ( which I am often mistaken as) are in the area.

    Thank you for any answers you can provide,

    Jay Taylor

    • Hello Jay,

      My apologies for my delay in response. This comment got lost in the moderating system while I was undergoing and recovering from surgery. If you haven’t handle “not going out to dance/see/play live music,” then Saudi Arabia is not for you. If you need to drink and hang out at a cool jazz lounge, Saudi Arabia is not for you. But, if you get out of the country (Saudi Arabia) enough on vacation, that may suffice. I view my time in Saudi Arabia as being in rehab. People do have gatherings at their homes, and there is plenty of moonshine at these events. Personally, I perfer liquor that has undergone extensive quality control measures. 🙂 In regards, to being a black male in Saudi Arabia, since I’m a black female, I can’t tell you how it is to be a black man in Saudi Arabia, but I can tell you that it’s probably no worse than the US. 🙂


  1. […] photo was taken in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  Though it’s not an awe inspiring shot, the way I got the shot was such a pleasant surprise […]

  2. […] my favorite because these guys are the coolest guys I’ve ever met in Saudi Arabia.  I was in Jeddah, taking tourist photos, and these guys invited me over to take a photo.  This just does not happen […]