Now that Saudi Arabia’s portals are open to non-religious visitors, many are looking forward to spend leisure time in Jeddah a.k.a “The Bride of the Red Sea,” The nickname mainly references how the lively port city’s location at the Red Sea makes it a main location for fresh seafood. Jeddah’s traditional dishes actually use seafood as main ingredient in capturing the strong and vibrant gastronomic features of Saudi Arabia’s traditional cuisine.

Overview of Jeddah Food Culture

Jeddah residents promote their city with a famous slogan, “Jeddah Ghair,” which they wholeheartedly embrace as it hails the city for being different. It usually applies to their different approaches in cooking famous Saudi dishes made with lamb meat, yogurt and dates as side offerings.

A lot of Jeddah restaurants offer regional specialties in assorted flavors and ingredients, including recipes of Jeddah fares that combine chicken meat, potatoes, wheat, and an assortment of various freshly-picked vegetables.

It is common for Jeddah locals to gather in restaurants and cafés, to eat Matazeez and Kabsa which are considered as the national dishes of the kingdom. Travelers who aren’t as adventurous can visit fast food and international restaurants offering beef burgers at the Food Trucks Park; or the fried chicken popular in Al Baik.

Yet if you’re in for the complete Jeddah dining experience, make sure to try out the following dishes that Jeddah is known for:

  • Qursan, a side dish made from thinly pressed wheat flour soaked in gravy and usually served together with a main dish.
  • Kabsa, Saudi Arabia’s national dish is a mixed rice preparation containing vegetables and meat. The most common kabsa ingredients are lamb meat, potatoes, rice, and yogurt.
  • Madfoon is a meat and rice dish commonly cooked in an underground fire pit.
  • Matazeez, a hearty Arabic lamb stew with spiced sauce and vegetables.

Is Jeddah Tap Water Safe to Drink?

When it comes to drinking water, visitors should stick to drinking bottled water. In Saudi Arabia, the quality of water can be affected by the conditions of the pipes and storage tanks holding the desalinated water supplied by the National Water Company.

A few years ago, Jeddah citizens residing in old buildings, complained about not having access to clean tap water due to water tanks that have not been cleaned for years. Cleaning of water tanks ( تنظيف خزانات المياه بجده ) is a major concern in the port city as it has been identified as one of the causes of water contamination.

Take note that this is not to discourage travelers from going to Al Balad, which is a historical location in Jeddah. It is specifically famous for its intricate 500-year old buildings, many of which were built using corals harvested from the Red Sea.