End of june.. I got in my car.. family and all and took off to Jeddah. I drove and drove and drove. I was just sick of Riyadh. I was sick of people in Riyadh. I was sick of the constant crying and whaling for money by people. Had I not left.. I would have kicked some asses severely and left them to rot. I was sick of my business, the people associated with it. I was sick of society. And, I had a lot of work in Jeddah. I had pending meetings. I had many people who wanted to see me. And, I wanted to go to Makkah and just pray. I needed a BREAK and I wanted to reconsider Jeddah for living in and moving to. I had gone for a week, I came back in 18 days.
Honestly? I love Jeddah. Who would not? It is the city of MANKIND. Yes, it is. It is not just a Saudi Port City. It is the city of all humanity. The Mother of Mankind, EVE.. is there. In a long grave somewhere in the city ( no I did not visit the grave, it would hurt me).
With it’s slums, broken down roads, painful construction work and the great variety of humans good and bad, we love Jeddah. And, as is our way.. as has been our way.. we do our best to destroy what we love. We humans. Jeddah was the bride of the Red Sea. Today, it looks like the WIDOW of the RED Sea. Unattended. Not cared for. Left to be. All focus is on the capital, Riyadh and other GREAT cities. But, not Jeddah.
Jeddah is where I initiated my work. Jeddah is where I got married. Jeddah is where I got solutions to my problems. Yes, Jeddah has been that mother every son needs. Jeddah has loved me too. I sit here and write this and I know I could be in Jeddah in 8 hours if I drive now.. yet I miss Jeddah like I have not been there in ages.
Why is Jeddah so close to my heart and why is Riyadh ,where I grew up ,leaving my heart? Riyadh tests me, Jeddah pampers me. It is that simple. Most of my friends have by mistake said this while in Jeddah ” When we get back to Saudi Arabia ( riyadh)..”.. I have too. Jeddah does not seem like the territory of any one nation. It feels like the home of ANYONE from anywhere. It welcomes everyone.
Earlier in this post, I wrote that Jeddah is neglected. I am not saying that huge buildings and cool buildings are needed there. No, not at all. I wish the buildings remain as they are. I hope it remains as is. I just wish the Saudi government would appoint more municipality cleaners. Build a better drainage system and clean this city for a change. Thats all. Just the basics. It is not the appearance as much as the FEELING in Jeddah. The Soul of the city is BEAUTIFUL.
In the hotel that I always stay in, two members of the PVPV come and sit in the lobby every evening. I would wave at them, say salam and they would respond with a smile. Impressive. Not angry , nor suspicious and definitely not judgmental. I was in Makkah with a Shaikh, at the Hilton and it called for Isha prayers. We got up to leave and were going through the Mall. The security guard was shouting at people sitting around to go an pray. The Shaikh stopped him and reprimanded him… ” DO NOT FORCE PEOPLE TO PRAY! They maybe of a different sect and pray at a different time! You have no right to Force them. Leave them alone”… I looked at his face ” Are you serious???”.. Very, he said. This is a Shaikh OF Makkah. Yes, one feels more freedom in the House of God then in a city far away from it..amazing. Makkah people are global people.
Huge crowds, many many people and that BIG clock. A clock I did not even notice as I looked upon the Kaba, thinking of Prophet Ibrahim PBUH. How he came to this place with his wife and child and left them there. How Zamzam water came out and how Allah kept the promise He made to Ibrahim. How, this city probably has more money coming in and going out than any city of the world. It filled my heart and eyes to think this and to see the worship of people. The unity we cannot experience anywhere else on earth. Millions of people, one body.
NO, this is not my first time there.. But each time is like the first time.
All of the above were my feelings and thoughts.. what shall follow now is my most sincere advice to KSA:
Jeddah is, was, and shall remain the GATEWAY to KSA. It is what more people of the world see when they come to KSA. Beautify it. From there shall drive many into the Kingdom. Beautify the road from it and to it. Create places on the way. Places with 5 star facilities. Make the journey better for people, you can. Give it’s people respect, honor them for hosting people and representing KSA in front of them. Create opportunity there. I would even go to the extent of advising that Jeddah be made a free zone where people of the world can come, invest in and live in. Just ensure good law enforcement. Ensure national security. Yes, scrutinize but do not deprive. Let this city be that special haven for Muslims of the World. For all the good people of the world. WOW! What a thought…. what a thought..
I will return soon Jeddah.. and then we will have a Jeddah Real Talk Page.. :)