A newly launched initiative is set to center Al Balad, or Historic Jeddah as the hub of Saudi Arabia‘s cultural and tourism development. Dubbed ‘Balad Al-Fann’, the project will run until March 9, hosting a series of activities in the special location.
Visitors can expect four art exhibitions, music programs, theatrical performances, as well as dedicated events for school children as part of the Historic Jeddah Program. According to Abdulaziz Ibrahim Al-Issa, the general supervisor of the program, the events are aimed at developing artistic skills and entrepreneurship in the sectors, in line with the Kingdom’s larger Vision 2030 plan.
The Fifa Club World Cup 2023, which is being hosted by Saudi Arabia, will also see Al Balad fulfilling its appointment as the official cultural destination of the championship via several events from December 12-22. The matches will be showcased on large screens at two locations: Al-Arbaeen Lagoon, and Al-Aidaroos Court (next to Al-Falah School).
Through these events, the Historic Jeddah Program aims to “strengthen the tourism sector, develop the local economy, and increase awareness of the area’s cultural heritage, which is listed on the Unesco World Heritage List.” The establishment of the Al Balad Development Company (BDC) by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund the Public Investment Fund (PIF) earlier this year will also carry out significant development in the region, which includes 9,300 residential units, 1,800 hotel units, and around 1.3 million square meters of commercial and office space.
Unesco’s description for the site reads: “From the 7th century AD it was established as a major port for Indian Ocean trade routes, channeling goods to Mecca. It was also the gateway for Muslim pilgrims to Mecca who arrived by sea. These twin roles saw the city develop into a thriving multicultural center, characterized by a distinctive architectural tradition, including tower houses built in the late 19th century by the city’s mercantile elites, and combining Red Sea coastal coral building traditions with influences and crafts from along the trade routes.”