Jeddah: a "Wise Old City" Facing the Challenges of Urban Requalification?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This study is developed within a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach. The author's orientalistic knowledge and learning joined hands with practice in some archival funds and records (State and private collections of manuscripts) in Arabic as well. Fieldwork was also essential to shed light on some specific issues dealt with in the essay. All of that allowed the author to participate in an international research project and conference at SciencesPo Paris, developed in collaboration with CIDOB (Barcelona Center for International Affairs) and KFAS (Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences), on challenges of urban sustainability in the wider Mediterranean within a historical perspective. This method in the author’s essay gave a picture of the history of the urban settlement under investigation, a urbanised territory where the religious factor - Islam - and trade interests intertwined throughout the centuries. Relations between this past and present challenges are examined in the author’s article included in the book edited by Eckart Woertz on “Wise Cities in the Mediterranean? Challenges of Urban Sustainability”. Preservation efforts of historical areas are considered in Jeddah, as they are contributing both to sustainability and to the creation of new patterns of behavior and changing identities of local people. Jeddah and its port, linking Asia with Africa and the Mediterranean (Italy included), are inherently associated both with maritime trade and the Islamic pilgrimage (hajj) throughout history. Some urban spaces are examined in the light of the historical urban evolution of this ancient settlement and its specific cultural identity. This article aims to trace back some crucial events in the history of this city until its most recent evolution. Nowadays, it is certainly more and more complex and it is facing new problems and challenges imposed by development, modernity and demographic growth. Its historical heritage and the pivotal topic of requalification in old and new urban spaces are considered in the light of an interesting ongoing internal debate. This debate gains special importance for the future of Jeddah and of its human resources. A question arises: can Jeddah represent a “wise city” in modern Saudi Arabia in terms of environmental and social sustainability? The “wise city model” is considered in the light of the ability to enhance public awareness and wider public participation in the requalification of al-Balad, the historic district of Jeddah.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication"Wise Cities" in the Mediterranean? Challenges of Urban Sustainability
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Arabia Saudita
  • Arabian Peninsula
  • Jeddah
  • Penisola Arabica
  • Saudi Arabia
  • heritage preservation
  • patrimonio culturale
  • sostenibilità urbana
  • storia urbana
  • urban history
  • urban sustainability


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