If you want to go to a place where you do not run out of places to shop – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia is the place to go. Virtually a shopper’s paradise – Jeddah is famous for its large number of malls.Almost all shopping malls in Jeddah have a huge amusement or entertainment park complete with water fountains and pools and what not. A lot of the malls have ice skating rinks. Separate prayer facilities for men and women are right inside the mall.
Chain stores like Nike, Adidas, Mothercare, Limited Too and others can be seen in most malls. Food courts carry brands like McDonald’s, Burger King, Krispy Kreme, Cheesecake Factory, Cinnabon, Starbucks and more.
Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to do much outside the house apart from shop – and this contributes to the fact that Jeddah is bulging at its seams with “destination malls”. Shopping is one of the few family activities to do in Saudi Arabia apart from visiting other relatives’ homes. There are no movie theatres and women are not even allowed to watch men play sports. If women play any sports, only other women can watch them play.
The women all wear the requisite floor length black “abayas”. Men are either dressed in the traditional long white dress known as the “thobe”, covering their head with the red checked scarf called, “shemagh”. However, men might choose to wear jeans.
Most of the mall employees are men, as women are not allowed to work in malls, except, some malls have women employees cleaning the women’s restrooms. However, they are not women from Jeddah or any other part of Saudi Arabia.
To an outsider, it might seem strange, but most of the malls open in the morning from 9 or 10 AM, but the shops close at about 1 PM, and do not reopen again before 5 PM. A few shops might stay open, but they too close for at least half an hour for the prayer times.
One of the places to visit in Jeddah is the Red Sea Mall not only for dedicated shoppers but history buffs as it has a history section with traditional paintings as well as heritage boutiques. There is an art gallery as well. The store has both high-end brands like Burberry and Coach as well as mainstream ones like Centrepoint and H&M.
Another mall that is ideal for families is the Mall of Arabia with KidZania, which is a fun interactive place for children to play as well as learn to develop their skills through real-life job simulations. The Mall of Arabia includes popular clothing and shoe stores like Forever 21, Zara, Debenhams along with some high-end ones like DKNY, Ted Baker and others. Besides the food court, it also has stand-alone cafes like Ferrari Café and restaurants like Fridays and Simit Saray.
If you want to play as well as shop, you need to go to Al Serafi, which offers activities like carting, laser tagging, and bowling in an entertainment zone named In10s. They have an ice skating rink but it is used for Bumper-Car-on Ice rides. The mall has Victoria’s Secret, MAC and H&M. A popular dining area in this mall is Mug and Bean.
Besides these three malls, Jeddah has much more like the Serafi Mega mall, Aziz Mall, Le Chateau, Boulevard, Al Kheyat Center, Ana Special, Haifa mall, Stars Avenue Mall. All of these malls are at the top of the scale when it comes to the facilities they offer. All shopping malls in Jeddah are much more than just a place to shop!