Jeddah (English: JED-ə), also spelled Jedda, Jiddah or Jidda ( JID-ə; Arabic: جِدَّة, romanized: Jidda, Hejazi pronunciation: [ˈdʒɪd.da]), is a city in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia and the country's commercial center. Established in the 6th century BC as a fishing village, Jeddah’s prominence grew in 647 when the Caliph Osman made it a major port for Indian Ocean trade routes, channelling goods to Mecca, and to serve Muslim travelers for Islamic pilgrimage. Since those times, Jeddah has served as the gateway for millions of pilgrims who have arrived in Saudi Arabia, traditionally by sea and recently by air. With a population of about 4,697,000 people as of 2021, Jeddah is the largest city in Makkah Province, the largest city in Hejaz, the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia (after the capital Riyadh), and the tenth-largest in the Middle East. Jeddah Islamic Port, on the Red Sea, is the thirty-sixth largest seaport in the world and the second-largest and second-busiest seaport in the Middle East (after Dubai's Port of Jebel Ali).
Jeddah is the principal gateway to Mecca, the holiest city in Islam, 65 kilometers (40 mi) to the east, while Medina, the second-holiest city, is 360 kilometers (220 mi) to the north.
Economically, Jeddah is focusing on further developing capital investment in scientific and engineering leadership within Saudi Arabia, and the Middle East. Jeddah was ranked fourth in the Africa, Middle East, and 'stan countries region in the Innovation Cities Index in 2009.Jeddah is one of Saudi Arabia's primary resort cities and was named a Beta world city by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC). Given the city's close proximity to the Red Sea, fishing and seafood dominate the food culture unlike other parts of the country. In Arabic, the city's motto is "Jeddah Ghair", which translates to "Jeddah is different". The motto has been widely used among both locals as well as foreign visitors. The city is widely perceived as the most liberal city in Saudi Arabia and is a popular tourist destination in the region.
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