- Title: SAUDI ARABIA-FESTIVAL Jeddah festival expected to attract one million visitors
- Date: 19th January 2015
- Summary: JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA (JANUARY 18, 2015) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) MUHAMMAD AL-BAHLOLI, OWNER OF OLD HOUSE IN HISTORIC JEDDAH, SAYING: "We are the owners of old Jeddah and we are very happy that the families are coming to see their parents and grandparents and how they used to live." JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA (JANUARY 14, 2015) (REUTERS) ACTOR WALKING THROUGH OLD TOWN STREET, CALLING FOR TRADE
- Embargoed: 3rd February 2015 12:00
- Location: Saudi Arabia
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA5FSZ82ZOLQQ9P9ND6RGKAXHJQ
- Story Text: The annual Jeddah Festival kicked off on Thursday (January 14) with a focus on the heritage and history of the old town area.
Inaugurated by Jeddah Governor, Prince Mishaal bin Majed and Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities Head (SCTA), Prince Sultan Bin Salman, the opening night saw a performance of dancing and music in front of an audience of dignitaries.
Actors recreating scenes of old Jeddah life on the streets of the old city, with re-enactments of traditional trading, money changing and school life.
Dozens of performances and almost a 100 different activities were commissioned by SCTA and the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) to engage visitors in the culture and traditions of the historic Jeddah area. The festival had already attracted 230,000 visitors.
"The number of activities in the festival has reached almost 100 and attendance, up until last night -according to the organizing committee and the statistics centre - reached 230,000 visitors in the space of three days," said Hassan Dahlan, Assistant Head of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce.
Known as the 'Bride of the Red Sea', the old town area of Jeddah was in June 2014 included in UNESCO's 'World Heritage list' and is a national heritage site.
The local municipality and Mecca province are working to help the renovations of traditional buildings and homes within the historic Jeddah area, which contains an estimated 2000 houses.
"The area has approximately 2000 historical and archaeological houses, 450 of them are registered inside the registration area (in the records of the UNESCO). During the last week we have had 607 renovation permissions for buildings inside historic Jeddah. The owners of the buildings began rebuilding their homes and became investors (in the tourism of the historic city)," said Muhammad al-Wafi, deputy Jeddah governor, announcing that more houses in the protected area were listed to be renovated.
Unlike other parts of the Kingdom. Jeddah receives a large number of international and local tourists all year round. Most of them come on pilgrimage to visit the holy sites in Mecca and Medina.
One visitor, Wadah Al-Mihdar, said the festival introduced the history and civilization of previous generations to a new generation.
"The idea of the festival is excellent as it reminds children and reminds people of the past; of their parents and grandparents, of their past and civilization."
Locals living in old Jeddah enjoyed showing off the historic area to the visitors.
"We are the owners of old Jeddah and we are very happy that the families are coming to see their parents and grandparents and how they used to live," Muhammad Al-Bahloli, who owns one of the houses in historic Jeddah, said.
The celebration is expected to attract about one million visitors from the Gulf area and will last for ten days.
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