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Saudi Arabian port on the Red Sea.

Jidda is the second largest city of Saudi Arabia, with a population of some two million. It is also the largest city of the Hijaz, located in the country's western region, along the Red Sea. Its prosperity dates from its designation by the early Islamic state as the port of nearby Mecca. Jidda was occupied by the first Saudi state at the beginning of the nineteenth century, then Muhammad Ali of Egypt restored it to nominal Ottoman authority in 1811. It was the last city in the short-lived Hashimite kingdom of Hijaz to resist the Al Saʿud, finally surrendering after a long siege in 1925. Jidda is important as the commercial and banking center of the country, the site of the Islamic Port of Jidda (Saudi Arabia's largest port) and King Abd al-Aziz Airport, through which most of the pilgrims pass during the annual hajj (pilgrimage). The centuries-old immigration of Muslims from around the world makes Jidda one of the most cosmopolitan of Saudi Arabia's cities.


Farsy, Fouad al-. Modernity and Tradition: The Saudi Equation. London: Kegan Paul International, 1991.

j. e. peterson

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Jidda (jĬ´də) or Jedda (jĕ–), city (1993 est. pop. 2,058,000), Hejaz, W Saudi Arabia, on the Red Sea. Jidda is the port of Mecca (c.45 mi/72 km to the east) and annually receives a huge influx of pilgrims, mainly from Africa, Indonesia, and Pakistan. Unlike Mecca, Jidda has always accepted visitors of all religions. The diverse local population includes a large admixture of Africans, Persians, Yemenis, and Indians. Most are employed in the oil industry. There are few exports, but many goods are imported to support the pilgrims. The city is the administrative capital of Saudi Arabia. Jidda was ruled by the Turks until 1916, when it became part of the independent Hejaz. In 1925 it was conquered by Ibn Saud. Oil wealth brought expansion of the city and its seaport; the city walls came down in 1947 and a desalinization plant was built in the 1970s. Present Jidda is not more than three centuries old, but Old Jidda, c.12 mi (19 km) south of the modern city, was founded c.646 by the caliph Uthman.