Community, Offbeat

Teenage Life In Jeddah – Living Between Tradition and Aspiration

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By Layan Abdul Shakoor

The adolescent life in Jeddah is unpredictable; teenagers live in a fast-paced life with various struggles, torn between following tradition and their own aspirations.


As 19-year-old Yasmeen al-Sawwaf said “we face a constant struggle between customs and righteous deeds. We are a generation resembling a pressured sphere that is ready to burst.” The adolescent life here is a powerful force surging through society. Over the past few years, there have been countless efforts from teenagers to further improve society or simply become a role model for other teenagers alike. But what do we teenagers really think of our lives here?

In Jeddah, I’m never alone. If my friends are busy, my brothers are there. If my brothers are busy, my cousins are there. There is always someone you can count on.Maha al-Ghamdi, 17
Jeddah is a boring city. There’s nothing to do for a teenager! All everyone cares about here are grades. Why is it so important to get good grades in science when I don’t even want to become a doctor? I hate being trapped and I hate being forced to do something that I don’t like, but it’s my parent’s wishes, and I have to respect them. What else can I do? I’m young, and because of that reason, I don’t know anything.Anonymous, 15
I believe that in the teenage phase, there is a thirst for creativity and action and a need to be heard. Living in Jeddah, it’s not that easy because the activities related to creativity and action are limited. If a person does have a talent, and wants to be heard, they can’t…because nobody listens, so they feel neglected to the point they refuse to believe that they even have a talent. It’s hard living in Jeddah because of the lack of creativity.Anonymous, 17
As a woman in Jeddah who is a lawyerto- be, I face a battle ahead of me as an individual woman in a male-dominated career. It encourages me to work harder to achieve greater success to prove that women are as worthy and as strong as men, and maybe even more so.Yasmeen al- Sawwaf, 19
To live an acceptable life as a female in Jeddah, it all depends on the people you accompany, and I’m not referring to your popularity here. Having a well-connected social network helps you find what you need, get around, and enjoy your time.Sundos Malaika, 18
I love Jeddah; it’s my home, I lived here until I was eight. But then we moved around due to my father’s work, so my parents decided to make it easier for me and sent me to boarding school in Switzerland. I come here on vacations, and honestly, I love every minute of it. I love relaxing at home, seeing my family, and simply being in the place that I was brought up in. When people ask me if I prefer it here or living in Switzerland, they always expect me to say Switzerland because it’s so peaceful, calm, and different, but I always say it’s better here because this is my home and will always be, no matter how different it is. I will always love it.Anonymous, 16
Jeddah is an inspiring city to me, personally. I’ve lived here my entire life and, yes, there are times when I wish I could go abroad and breathe a different type of air, but my life is based here. My family and friends are all here, and what’s life without all of that? I feel as if my life is complete. Even though there’s not much to do in Jeddah, it is filled with opportunities – you just have to grab them the second they show up!Anonymous, 15
After years of living in Riyadh, I’ll have to say Jeddah feels like a breath of fresh air. I feel like I’m in another world with something new to offer every day. The society, the norms, and culture of Jeddah are significantly different from that of Riyadh. As a young adult, I find socializing in Jeddah to be easier and a lot more exciting than it is in Riyadh. There are generally more things one can do over here. Finding entertainment in Jeddah is nothing to be worried about. The society has some of the friendliest people I came across. From everywhere else I traveled, hospitality is like no other in the city of Jeddah!Anonymous, 19

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