The city of Jeddah is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia (after Riyadh), and is the country’s most important Red Sea port. A large warehouse and dock complex is visible in the lower left portion of this astronaut photograph. Apart from being a major port for exchange of goods with Africa and Europe, Jeddah is of great importance for Islamic pilgrims going east to Mecca (a religious journey known as the hajj). Tradition also places the final resting place of the Biblical Eve in Jeddah, although the tomb was destroyed over fifty years ago. Due to a steady influx of travelers, the city contains many hotels, resorts, shopping centers, and other attractions. One such apartment complex, comprised of multiple high-rise buildings, is visible in the right of the image.
This astronaut photograph depicts the downtown district of Al Balad, a residential area historically (and presently) occupied by wealthy merchants. A major roadway running along the coast, Corniche Road, is a locus for Jeddah nightlife, restaurants, and shopping centers. In addition to urban attractions, coral reefs along the coast (north-south trending islands at image left) are frequented by divers visiting the city. The image captures the multicolored rooftops of homes and other buildings in the city, the oldest of which were built using coral from the nearby Red Sea and clay from the al-Manqabah lagoon in the center of the Al Balad district (center of image; lagoon is approximately 0.25 kilometers across).