Location: Al Balad
Dates: 7th – 16th January 2016
Times: 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.
The Historical Jeddah festival “kunna keda” was bought back to town for the third year; bigger, better and stronger than ever. The festival consisted of two parts: The “Souq Ahalina” sponsored by NCB and the walkthrough in Al Mathloum district where visitors got the opportunity to relive the Hijazi lifestyle and traditions.
We started at the souq, where they were holding the Al Balad Comedy Show (two shows per day; 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.), food booths (Kalila and Aseil with their Hijazi mutabbags, Al Khayal with their shawermas, Abu Riyal food truck with their ice creams and Nescafe with their much loved qahwa offerings.) Also businesses and organizations were given the chance to showcase their products in small booths, such as traditional clothing, customized T-shirts and cultural artifacts.
We were then ushered, by a very helpful volunteer, who stopped traffic to give visitors a safe path to cross the very busy streets (Thank you.) We were then greeted by the majestic city gate; Baab Al Madina in Historical Jeddah – a UNESCO site. A tour guide (Mohammedamin A Turkistani) generously offered to guide us through the city landmarks. This was the beginning of our great adventure.
(1) Nescafe offering Arabic coffee to visitors. (2) The hijazi postman and his bike. (3) An escape tunnel built in the Al Matbouli house.
One of the things that literally pulled at our heartstrings was the consistent and continuous effort the organizers had made to cater to those with special needs. Making them feel involved in the festivities, they organized a play for them and a folklore and mizmar performance.
We were lucky to meet the Mayor of the Sham Al Madloum District; Malak Baissa. He was gracious enough to welcome us to the event. (He usually sits outside his office)
(4) The mayor, Malak Baissa, with us.
As Maghreb started, a kind antique shop owner allowed us to take refuge in her store. It was hospitality at its best. She offered Qahwa and several variations of the traditional ma3mool. To add to this, she surprised us; explaining that the traditional majlas could actually be rented as a meeting space for those looking for a Hijazi experience while working.
As we turned one of the many corners, we were met with the stunning view of the photography street. Both walls were covered with beautiful shots taken by Saudi artists.
For Saudis, the Family wall would probably be one of their highlights. They were given the chance to find their family name and tag it with their own names.
(5) Our amazing tour guide volunteer Mr. Mohammadamin Turkistani.
Last but not least, our tour guide took us to visit the oldest houses in the area (400 years old). The Al Matbouli family were kind enough to give us a special tour of their home.
Along the way, we met several expats who were thoroughly enjoying this discovery of Hijaz experience.
Simply said, we were blown away. We couldn’t have asked for more, except maybe for Snapchat not to crash while we were covering the event (our 80 snaps from the first visit were all deleted 🙁 )
We would like to thank every single organizer and volunteer who helped create such a phenomenal event; us Jeddawis really appreciate all the hard work. We would also like to thank the Mayor Malak Baissa for welcoming us and all Jeddawis to this event. Last but not least, a very HUGE thank you to Mr Mohammedamin Turkistani for guiding us not once, but twice through the streets of Al Balad; Thank you for all the information you gave us and thank you for being so patient with us as we tried to soak in all our surroundings.
We look forward to next year’s event and encourage everyone to visit; it’s definitely worth every second of leg cramps.