While millions of pilgrims travel every year to visit the sacred area of Mecca, the city it’s located in, Jeddah, has become a different kind of mecca for shopaholics. It is estimated that there are currently over 90 shopping centres, or malls, in the currently with many more under construction. This has made it a popular destination for both ex-pats and Saudis alike, and this only looks set to increase further.
Jeddah is a bustling commercial centre that sits on the Red Sea coastline and boasts a population of around 3.2m. It is little wonder that shopping is such a popular pastime here, considering that there are no theatres, cinemas or nightclubs. Whether you want to browse around your every day high street store or wander past rails of top end designer gear, you can do it in Jeddah.
The problem is that most visitors only come to Jeddah for a short time, and with so much choice it can be difficult to know where to start, and what to include and not. There are many insider guides available online to help you decide where to go, but many come here just to be part of the shopping experience with no set items they want to buy, and just pick up bargains when they catch their eye.
Two of the largest shopping centres are the Mall of Arabia and the Red Sea Mall, and the sheer size of them has to be seen to be believed. The Red Sea Mall boasts 18 entrances, three floors of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues, 4000 parking spaces, a 5 star hotel and even a 7 storey office building. The array of goods on offer is vast and varied from international foods to numerous non food items.
The Mall of Arabia is even bigger, and is currently the biggest in Jeddah. It has 330 shops and restaurants spread over 3 floors and there is even an ice rink. It is a very modern building, and it is easy to navigate this light and airy centre thanks to it being designed in a circular shape.