Jeddah is a city in the Hijaz Tihamah region on the coast of the Red Sea and is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest sea port on the Red Sea, and the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia after the capital city, Riyadh. With a population currently at 5.1 million, Jeddah is an important commercial hub in Saudi Arabia. Jeddah is the principal gateway to Mecca, Islam's holiest city, which able-bodied Muslims are required to visit at least once in their lifetime. It is also a gateway to Medina, the second holiest place in Islam.
Economically, Jeddah is focusing on further developing capital investment in scientific and engineering leadership within Saudi Arabia, and the Middle East. Jeddah was independently ranked fourth in the Africa – Mid-East region in terms of innovation in 2009 in the Innovation Cities Index.Jeddah is one of Saudi Arabia's primary resort cities and was named a Gamma world city by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC). Historically, Jeddah has been well known for its legendary money changers. The largest of said money changers at the time (the late Sheikh Salem Bin Mahfouz) eventually founded Saudi Arabia's first bank, the National Commercial Bank (NCB).
Etymology and spelling
There are at least two explanations for the etymology of the name Jeddah, according to Jeddah Ibn Helwaan Al-Qudaa'iy, the chief of the Quda'a clan. The more common account has it that the name is derived from جدة Jaddah, the Arabic word for "grandmother". According to eastern folk belief, the tomb of Eve (), considered the grandmother of humanity, is located in Jeddah. The Tomb was sealed with concrete by the religious authorities in 1975 as a result of some Muslims praying at the site. Ibn Battuta(1304–1368), the Berber traveler, visited Jeddah during his world trip. He wrote the name of the city into his diary as "Juddah".The British Foreign Office and other branches of the British government used to use the older spelling of "Jedda", contrary to other English-speaking usage, but in 2007 changed to the spelling "Jeddah".T. E. Lawrence felt that any transcription of Arabic names into English was arbitrary. In his book Revolt in the Desert, Jeddah is spelled three different ways on the first page alone.
On official Saudi maps and documents, the city name is transcribed "Jeddah", which is now the prevailing usage.
Major organizations headquartered in Jeddah
The city serves as headquarters for several global and major organizations, including:
- Saudi Geological Survey
- Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
- Islamic Development Bank
- Jeddah Economic Forum
- Saudi Binladin Group
- Saudi Arabia's Human Rights Organization
- Jeddah Chamber of Commerce & Industry
- Jeddah Marketing Board
- International Association of Islamic Banks
- International Islamic News Agency
- Islamic Shipowners Association
- Islamic States Broadcasting Organization
- The National Commercial Bank
- State Bank of India, Jeddah operations Headquarters
- Al Baik, Fast food chain, Sarafi Mall Jeddah