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JEDDAH: Every year during Ramadan, Jeddah’s historic district of Al-Balad becomes a hub of activity, attracting both locals and tourists with its rich heritage, cultural programs, and entertainment offerings.

To celebrate the holy month in style, the Jeddah Historic Program, organized by the Ministry of Culture, has launched an array of events and experiences ranging from traditional markets to interactive workshops, live cooking demonstrations and film screenings.

The programs promise a diverse range of cultural and artistic experiences. Visitors can immerse themselves in the heritage atmosphere of the old district by participating in programs such as the “Observatory” experience, where they can observe the moon using telescopes.

Sarah Saidi, a mother visiting Al-Balad with her children, said: “The interactive workshops and storytelling sessions at the Ramadan programs kept my kids engaged and entertained. It was a fun and educational experience for the whole family.”

Food enthusiasts in Jeddah can savor a variety of national dishes from the 13 regions of the Kingdom at the live cooking area, where interactive cooking sessions bring the flavors of Saudi Arabia to life.

The “Flavors of Our Regions” live cooking program showcases the rich tapestry of Saudi cuisine, offering a culinary journey through the Kingdom’s favorite dishes. Additionally, “Sufra Al-Thuraya” will host guests throughout the month for iftar and suhoor meals.

During Ramadan, Saudis relish goat and lamb liver, in particular. Additionally, balila, a traditional snack made from hummus, enjoys widespread popularity in the Hijazi region and across Saudi Arabia.

This unique scene unfolds annually in Al-Balad, where street vendors, adorned in traditional attire, occupy designated slots for their carts. These carts are adorned with lights and traditional lanterns, drawing in customers eager to indulge in kebdah, balila, and fries.

Ahmed Ashoor, a visitor from Riyadh, said: “Jeddah’s historic district during Ramadan is truly captivating. The cultural programs and entertainment options create an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.”

He added: “As someone originally from Jeddah but now living and working in Riyadh, I can’t pass up the opportunity to visit Al-Balad during Ramadan. It’s a unique atmosphere, especially with the kebdah (liver) and balilah stalls.”

For those looking to delve deeper into the customs and traditions of Ramadan, the “Noor Exhibition” provides insights into Ramadan practices worldwide. Interactive workshops under the “Minarat Fan” initiative engage visitors in educational and creative activities, fostering a deeper connection to the heritage of the region.

The “Dakkakeen Ramadan” bazaar offers a treasure trove of traditional products for shoppers, while also providing a host of activities for children, including storytelling sessions, games, art workshops, and more. The bazaar pulsates with energy as visitors explore the array of offerings, from handicrafts to delectable treats.

Fatima Al-Nabhan, a resident of Jeddah, said: “The Ramadan season in Jeddah is a unique blend of tradition and modernity. I love exploring the bazaars and trying out different dishes from around the Kingdom.”

Finding car parking when planning to visit Al-Balad has consistently posed a challenge, often forcing visitors to resort to taxis or park their vehicles in distant areas, necessitating a lengthy walk due to the influx of crowds during the holy month.

However, designated parking spaces are available throughout the historic district this year, while shuttle golf carts will ferry visitors to various landmarks, cultural activities, and entertainment sites. These efforts underscore the program’s commitment to preserving the cultural and historical heritage of the region, while ensuring a seamless experience for visitors.

During Ramadan, Jeddah comes alive with vibrant bazaars offering a plethora of shopping experiences. Local and Gulf fashion designers showcase their Ramadan collections, featuring everything from traditional attire to accessories, and shoes, with shopping delights across the city throughout the month.

Explore bazaars such as Khatwa Bazaar at Al-Salaam Mall from March 20-30; Jebna Al-Eid at Stars Avenue from March 10 to 30; Jasmine Box at Homegrown Villa from March 7 to April 7; Fanos at Malekat Palace from March 20 to 23; and AI-Danah Exhibition at Jeddah Hilton from March 27 to 29.

At Hayy Jameel in Jeddah, Ramadan Nights offers a program of diverse activities, including workshops, film screenings, eateries, and shopping opportunities. With more than 30 participants and collaborators across 14 nights, the program caters to all ages and backgrounds, celebrating community, culture, and well-being.

The Hayy Markets feature an array of local artisanal crafts, books, organic produce, and fashion items, creating a dynamic shopping experience for visitors.

Hayy Cinema adds a cinematic flair to the Ramadan season with its Ramadan Film Nights, showcasing independent films and documentaries from the Arab region. From the Palestinian film “The Teacher” to the Saudi film “Within Sand,” the screenings offer a glimpse into diverse storytelling traditions and cinematic expressions.

Additionally, the Electronic Games Championship promises thrills and excitement for gaming enthusiasts, continuing the success of last season’s event in Jeddah.

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