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Jeddah Information

Jeddah is the main starting point for diving adventures into the Red Sea from the Saudi Arabian coast. Here you can find the highest concentration of dive shops, a Nitrox filling station, beach resorts, a recompression chamber and much more...

If you are a visitor to Jeddah don't miss a trip to the "Balad" (old city) and it's souks.

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TRAVEL TO SAUDI ARABIA

Tourist visas are issued on a extremely strictly base, only if (expensive) tours are booked through the very few authorized travel agents or SAUDIA, the national airline. Women have to be accompanied by a male relative unless they are older than 40. Exact visa procedures you have to request from your nearest Saudi embassy, because these vary widely from country to country and from officer to officer.

If you have relatives living in Saudi Arabia - they are allowed (most of the time) to invite close relatives, such as their parents, kinds, sometimes brothers, rarely sisters,..

If you have a friend in Saudi Arabia he/she could try to get you a business visa. If their sponsor cooperates the company your friend works for invites you as a "technical manager", "sales manager" or similar for 2 weeks of meetings ;-)

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TRAVEL IN & AROUND JEDDAH

Public transport is basically not available, apart from very cheap, absolutely run-down buses, with no possibility to get information in advance about the route the travel; only for people with good Arabic and location knowledge, who don't mind to squeeze in with dozens of people with no A/C.

Taxis within the city limits shouldn't cost much more than SR 25,--; if you don't know the way, insist on the taximeter; be aware that taxi drivers in many cases don't know the way around Jeddah although they will assure you they know your destination - "no problem" - before you get into the car; if you are new or a visitor use a city map (from "Farsi", available at most bookshops and some larger supermarkets)

Car rental is readily available (Herz, Budget, Hanco and many smaller ones), cheapest cars starting from SR 80,-. International driving license required!

Transport to the beach (30-40km) is only offered by the bigger hotels or hotels with a private beach. Taxis cost a minimum of SAR 70,- and it is very difficult to find a taxi to go back to the city. Therefore it is better to rent a car.

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HOTELS

Jeddah Sheraton Hotel
Tel: +966(0)2-6992212
Fax: +966(0)2-6992660
E-Mail: shrjed@shabakah.net.sa
Web: www.sheraton.com 
located on N-Corniche;
provides beach bus
beach cabins for overnight stay directly on the beach are available for rent

Jeddah Intercontinental Hotel
Tel: +966(0)2-6611800
Fax: +966(0)2-6611145
E-Mail: jeddah@interconti.com 
Web: www.interconti.com 
located on Corniche near Palestine Street; 
provides beach bus

Red Sea Palace Hotel
Tel: +966(0)2-6428555
Fax: +966(0)2-6422395
Web: www.helnan.com 
located in Old Jeddah on King Abdul Aziz Street

Le Jeddah Meridien
Tel: +966(0)2-6633333
Fax: +966(0)2-6332333
E-Mail:reservations@meridien-jed.com.sa 
Web: www.lemeridien.com 
located on Jeddah's main road, Medina Road

 

Crowne Plaza Hotel
Tel: +966(0)2-6611000
Fax: +966(0)2-6606326
E-Mail:reservations@crowneplaza.com.sa 
Web: www.crowneplaza.com/sau 
located just off Corniche near Palastine Street, next to Intercontinental Hotel; 
provides shuttle bus to Intercontinental Beach

Jeddah Marriott Hotel

Tel: +966(0)2-6714000
Fax: +966(0)2-6715990
E-Mail: mhrs.jedsa.dom@marriott.com 
Web: www.marriotthotels.com 
located on Palestine Street 

Sands Hotel
Tel: +966(0)2-
Fax: +966(0)2-
located next to Danube supermarket and 4 dive shops off Thalia Street (officially called Mohammed .., but commonly known under the name Thalia Street)

Golden Tulip Hotel (former Al Bilad Hotel)
Tel: +966(0)2-6944777
Fax: +966(0)2-6943737
E-Mail: jeddah@albiladhotel.com 
Web: www.albiladhotel.com 
located on Corniche, next to Sheraton
provides shuttle bus to Golden Tulip Beach

 

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RESTAURANTS / FOOD

European style restaurants in the bigger hotels, main courses starting from 10 US$. 

Thai, Philipino, Indonesian, Indian, Arab Food is inexpensive and can be found in many little restaurants all over the city. "Shawormas" (beef or chicken cut from a big spit and rolled up in Arabic pita bread with parsley, french fries, tomatoes, hummous and hot sauce, if desired) or "Foul" (a fava bean dish eaten with Arab bread fresh from the oven) can be picked up for less than a Dollar.

American Fast Food chains are widely spread and charge more or less the same as they would back home.

Palm Garden (Al Nakheel Restaurant for taxi drivers) - traditional Arabic open-air  restaurant with cushions, "hubbly-bubbly" (water pipe); nice atmosphere, prices middle to expensive; on Corniche near corner Sari Street on opposite site of the sea

Taj Mahal (Student Café) - excellent Indian & Pakistani Food for very competitive prices; Tahlia Steet heading East (away from the sea), U-turn at Al Amir Majed Street, than after 6-700 m on the right hand side 

Yildizar - Lebanese Food, good but not cheap; off Andalus Street behind Citroen car showroom 

Asia Restaurant - Thai, Chinese & Philipino Food; located on the right hand side of Sari Street, near Medina Road traveling towards the sea, before 1st traffic light, next to a petrol station with car rental

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CONSULATES

Germany
Tel: +966(0)2-6653344
Fax: +966(0)2-6675964
relocating right now

Great Britain 
Tel: +966(0)2-6225550
Fax: +966(0)2-6226249
located off North Cornich,
behind Al-Bilad Hotel

Netherlands (closing down 31.12.2003)
Tel: +966(0)2-6515344
Fax: +966(0)2-6517866
locatedin Tamlik Bldg., 8. floor,
Wali Al Ahd Street 

Philippines
Tel: +966(0)2-6600348, 6670925
Fax: +966(0)2-6630838
E-Mail: jeddahpc@sps.net.sa 
located Al Sayyadah Khadejjah Street,
Al Faysaleyah Disrict

Spain (Honorary Consulate)
Tel: +966(0)2-6692790
Fax: +966(0)2-6655459
located El-Eman St., behind AlHamra Sofitel 

Switzerland
Tel: +966(0)2-6519772,6510776
Fax: +966(0)2-6519105
located on Medina Rd., Alireza Tower

USA
Tel: +966(0)2-6670080
Fax: +966(0)2-6693074
located Palastine Street/Hail Str. intersection

 

France
Tel: +966(0)2-6681550, 6681544
Fax: +966(0)2-6682717
located in Al Hamra Dist., behind
Mussaidiah Post Office, Al-Shuaraa St.

Greece
Tel: +966(0)2-6674064, 6674088
Fax: +966(0)2-6656228
located Dua Al Hikma St., behind
Sands Hotel, Al Andalus Dist.

Italy
Tel: +966(0)2-6421451,6421452
Fax: +966(0)2-6430188
E-Mail: itconged@tri.net.sa
located Ahmed A. Al-Amoudi Bldg.,
Abdul Wahab St.,Sharafeyyah Dist.

New Zealand (Honorary Consulate)
Tel: +966(0)2-6512109, 6513804
Fax: +966(0)2-6516504
located in Sundas Bldg., behind
Caravan Shopping Center 

South Africa
Tel: +966(0)2-6630922, 6631545
Fax: +966(0)2-6631034
E-Mail: info@southafrica.com.sa 
located Suleiman Al Tajjel Str. #3,
off Palestine St., East of Jamjoom Center

Sweden (Honorary Consulate)
Tel: +966(0)2-6654833,6654735
Fax: +966(0)2-6658950
Mushrefah District, Zahid HQ Bldg.

Turkey
Tel: +966(0)2-6654873,6601607
Fax: +966(0)2-6652280
located on Medina Rd./Al-Arafat Str.,
behind Maternity Hospital

Australia, Canada and other countries are not represented in Jeddah; some have embassies in Riyadh (Australia: Tel +966(0)1-4887788, Canada: Tel +966(0) 1-4882288) in the Diplomatic Quarter

 

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HOSPITALS / DOCTORS

Dr. Ghassan N. Pharaon General Hospital (GNP) 
Tel:  +966(0)2-6823200
Fax: +966(0)2-6830289
located on Prince Sultan Street,
next to petrol station near Airplane&
Boat Roundabout 

Used to run the only recompression chamber available to the public but it has been closed down (there is at least one more in one of the military hospitals but if you are not a VIP there is little chance you are accepted there). Otherwise specialized in the dental field. 

Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital
Tel: +966(0)2-6655000
Fax: +966(0)2-6608013
located on Palestine Street,
corner Hails Street near US Consulate

Magrabi Eye & Ear Centre
Tel: +966(0)2-6365000
Fax: +966(0)2-6366164
located on Medina Road 
opposite Modadia Plaza

King Faisal Specialist Hospital (former Al Salamah Hospital)
Tel: +966(0)2-6677777
located on Rawdah Street (former Prince Abdullah Street),
between Medina Road and Sultan Street


Saudi German Hospital
Tel: +966(0)2-6829000
Fax: +966(0)2-6835874
located on Batterjee Street;
turn towards the see at the Airplane&
Boat Rondabout on Sultan Street

 

Dentists:

North Jeddah Polyclinic
Tel: +966(0)2-6834617
located on Madinah Plaza, Medina Road traveling north

GNP - details see above

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RAMADAN

In Ramadan life stands still during daylight hours and turns crazy during dark. Diving is not affected very much, actually it is even far less crowded on the hotel beaches. All restaurants are closed during the day, the ones on the beach all Ramadan. But it is OK to bring own food & drinks to the beach to consume them discretely. But DO NOT eat, drink or smoke in public during daylight since it is strictly forbidden - this counts for Non-Muslims too!! 

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WEATHER / WATER TEMPERATURE

Very hot from mid April to October: 35-40º C,
pleasant from November to March: 25-30º C. During the hot months it stays warm all night (30-33º C), during the winter months it cools down to 18-22º C. This can be quite cool for night diving.

July till September it can be very humid.

It doesn't rain more than 2-3 days a year, some years no rainfall at all; if it rains it usually is very heavy and produces lots of chaos on the road.

During the cooler months it can be windy and therefore higher surf is more likely

Water Temperature

From Mai to December warm to very warm: 27-31º C,
from January to April cool: 23-25 º C.

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BEST TIME TO TRAVEL

Due to the high temperatures in summer for most people it is better to avoid this time of the year, but dive operations will offer full service throughout the year, because they do not depend on tourists rather than on the expats and local divers. A particular good time is November till December, when outside temperatures drop to pleasant 25-27 C, while water temperatures are still high.

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LITERATURE

Lonely Planet - Arab Gulf States, ISBN 0-86442-390-X; travel guide
 Jeddah Today - sold in most local bookstores, annual editions; useful information
 The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - ISBN 0-905743-67-9; background information & photographs
 Jeddah Old and New - ISBN 0-905743-64-4; photographs
 Red Sea Reef Fishes - ISBN 0-907151-04-1; fish identification book
 Red Sea Safety - ISBN 1-898 162 700; Guide to dangerous marine animals
 Desert Sea - by Hagen Schmid, beautiful U/W photographs, sold in Jeddah's dive- and bookshops
 Red Sea Invertebrates - ISBN 0-907151-11-6; invertebrates identification book 
 Red Sea Shells - ISBN 0-7103-0103-0; shells identification book
 Rotes Meer Riff-Führer - ISBN 3-86132-258-7; German; very good fish & invertebrates identification book
 Niedere Meerestiere - ISBN 3-405-14854-5; German; invertebrates identification book
 Rotes Meer - ISBN 3-8003-0327-2; German; high quality photographs from the Red Sea & surrounding countries

Take this direct link to books about the Red Sea!

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MONEY

1 Saudi Riyal (SAR, SR) = 100 Hallalah

1 US$ is fixed to SAR 3,75
1 Euro = SAR 5,55 (Aug. 2008)

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DOES & DON'TS

Alcohol is strictly forbidden - do not try to smuggle a bottle or so in - it is not worth the risk! In the best case you'll be sent back on the next plane. 

Drug trafficking is punished by death penalty (beheading)!!

Furthermore the following products are forbidden: pork, girlie magazines, Non-Muslim symbols in public (such as a cross on your necklace).

Women are not allowed to drive a car

During prayer times every shop, restaurant etc. closes. In restaurants guests stay inside without service for the time the prayer takes. In some larger supermarkets it is possible to stay inside and continue your shopping under dimmed light and without staff, in most shops customers have to leave and are asked to return after prayer.

To take photographs of people is generally forbidden - especially of women. Men agree sometimes after being asked. It is not allowed to take pictures of military, police, palaces and whatever else could be sensitive. Most beaches do not allow cameras, except underwater cameras for divers/snorklers.

Dress code for women is to cover up with the infamous "abaya", the black cloth. Sometimes the "Mutawas" (religious police) ask to cover the hair. Inside compounds and at the western hotel beaches it is OK to wear regular western clothes respectively bikinis and Speedos. Do not change bikini tops without the cover of a towel or outside the changing room - unless you enjoy being starred at by 20 guys hovering 5 m away from you!

Non-Muslims are not allowed to enter mosques

During the holy month of Ramadan do not eat, drink or smoke in public during daylight hours. At the hotel beaches the restaurants will be closed, but it is OK to bring your own food & drinks and to consume them discretely.

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LANGUAGE

Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken.

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ELECTRICITY

Both - 110V and 220V / 60Hz is available, but not always clearly marked! Double-check before plugging in 110V appliances.

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BUSINESS HOURS

Vary - most shops are open 9am - 1.30pm and 5 pm - 10 pm Saturdays to Thursdays and Fridays from 5 - 10 pm. Most dive shops open 9/10am and close 10pm without break (except for prayers), on weekends (Thu/Fri) they open at 8am till 11pm. During prayer times every shops has to close and customers will be asked to leave.

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