Al-Balad is a magnificent piece of history - never before I had the opportunity to see small town built from the sea corals. This place is a must see in Jeddah, especially because it's one of the rare preserved historical sites in this area where you can experience spirit of the old ages. Several streets are still used as a souq (merchant) area, where you can buy different goods: from spices, to cloth, to souvenirs for dirty cheap prices. Here, surrounded bu locals and ex-pats, people mostly dressed in traditional Arabic outfit, buildings that are dating back to the 7th century, and shops with vivid colors and exotic aromas, one could easily place him/herself back into the Islamic Golden Age and enjoy this unique time travel. One thing I especially like about Al-Balad - merchants are not pushy, so you can peacefully pace yourself and focus on marvelous details around you (whoever traveled to Egypt or Morocco knows what I'm talking about).
Despite its beauty and importance, authorities don't seem to be too concerned about the well being of Al-Balad - it is dirty, mostly left to the decay, with buildings slowly falling apart all over the area. Fortunately, restoration works are ongoing, but only several buildings seem to be under construction at the moment. I truly hope authorities will recognize importance of this historical site before it's too late and intensify works on its conservation.
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