The Central Fish Market in Jeddah, which sells endless rows of colorful seafood directly from the sea and serves as the best wake-up call in the city, comes to life early in the morning. The harbor has traditionally served as Jeddah's hub, greatly influencing the expansion and development of the city. Its advantageous location has helped the city thrive as a hub for global trade and a refuge for pilgrims making their way to Makkah and Medina.
Even though the tankers that cruise Jeddah's coasts now are very different from the wooden dhows of the past, the fish market's azure blue walls have kept all of its characteristics. The market is a photographic feast even if you aren't eating because of the amiable clamor and colorful selection of fresh fish, not to mention the port's fascinating significance in Jeddah's history.
- Watch fishermen dump their catch onto more than 100 stalls as the sun rises over the coast. The chance to buy the widest selection of fish in Saudi Arabia is up for bid. Since many vendors display English-language labels, it's a good idea to go from market to market and get familiar with the diverse selection of seafood on sale. The on-site restaurant at the fish market allows you to take your fresh catch home or eat it there, and it also provides takeout and eat-in options.
- For those eager to sample this loud, immersive experience, fish is cleaned, prepped, and grilled hours after it is caught, making the full-service option enticing. There are many options available, including seabass, tuna, calamari, mountains of crab and lobster, and regional delicacies like the red grouper (also known as 'najil' and the Napoleon wrasse (also known as 'tarabani'). Other fish caught in the area include Egyptian parrotfish and Omani sardines, but if you want to try local cuisine, look for products marked 'Baladi.'
- Due to the large number of on-site fishing shops that offer fishing rods, tackle, and other equipment to anyone willing to give it a try, the market is a hub for amateur fishermen. There are various coffee and food sellers, on-site parking, and an ATM in the main market.
- Although the fish market is open daily from 5 am to 9 pm early mornings are the busiest. Expect the craziest commotion on Friday mornings when Jeddah's love of fish is displayed in a cacophonous fashion to start the weekend.