Posted by: Leap of Faith | November 29, 2006

Just Jeddah

I just came back from a two day training course in our Head Office in Jeddah.  Finally, after almost ten months, I have seen all the three key cities (Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah) in the Kingdom. 

A few months back, Ton and I decided to muster our courage and take a four hour train ride to Riyadh, the Kingdom’s capital.  The place is very cosmopolitan… towering over its skyline is the Kingdom Tower and Al Faisaliah Building, which arguably are the two main landmarks of the Kingdom and symbols of what King Abdullah envisions this place to be … a modern society.

The oldest city in the Kingdom (and I think the largest) is Jeddah.  It is located at the western part of the Arabian Peninsula and is sorrounded by the Red Sea.  This place definitely has the most character among the three cities, being a melting pot of different cultures (i.e. Arabs, Africans, Filipinos, Malaysians, Americans, etc). 

The old Balad district of Jeddah (equivalent to our Intramuros and Escolta) has still some ruins of what used to be a great wall that proctected the area from Portugese invaders. There are also a number of antique houses, which are still decorated with elaborate wood and corale latices. Although these houses are in bad condition, it is these unique structures that make the Balad area a must see.

Also located in the area is the 20-year old toblerone shaped NCB head office, which undoubtedly is the best looking building in Jeddah.  I am quite sure our head office had its glory days until, of course, the new monuments in Riyadh were constructed.

Traffic in Jeddah is the worst.  The over crowded and winding streets, reckless drivers and weird city layout definitely make driving in that city quite an experience you won’t forget.

What I enjoyed the most in Jeddah is the availability of a selection of western style restaurants, which are mostly lined up in the famous Andalus Street.  Although, my friends (Patrick and Chris) and I ended up eating at the Italian restaurant in the hotel where I was staying, I have heard so many good reviews on the excellent food of restaurants like Senses, Java Lounge, etc. After dinner, my friends took me to chillax in a very nice coffee place called Casper and Gambinis, which to me is much, much better than Starbucks.

Jiddah Casper & Gambini's

I am now back in the Eatern Region, where my wife and children were eagerly awaiting for my return (siyempre, I was also eager to go home no!). Although this place lacks the modern look of Riyadh and the character of Jeddah, I honestly feel that this is the best place to live in the Kingdom.  The simple, laid back atmosphere, clean environment and accessability to ARAMCO are definitely my top reasons for choosing this place.  

Okay, to all of you who are considering moving to KSA… please choose the Eatern Region!!!

Until next time.





  1. Keith, just a few more posts from you about the Kingdom and we’ll probably already consider hopping on our magic carpet and join you guys. Haha.

  2. Hon, let me just say that the Lord puts you in the best place given your particular situation. Given this perspective, I guess the Eastern Region is the place to be for young families like ours. If you were an unattached young man in a hurry, Jeddah would be for you, right? 😉

  3. I will look forward to your arrival, Weng.

  4. Pinks, I agree. Just remember, if (for any reason)you threaten to leave permanently to go home to Manila without me then I’m packing my bags to enjoy Jeddah : )

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