National Geographic : 1966 Jan
Latticed balconies fronting tall stone hous es of Jidda shelter ladies of the harems, or women's quarters, who peer discreetly at life pulsing in the streets of Arabia's major port. Early each evening, following sunset prayers, men gather to gossip at their favor ite gahwa, or sidewalk coffee house. Gate way to the holy city of Mecca, Jidda owes its growth to pilgrim trade. Today steam ships and dhows crowd its harbor, and cars jam both old and new sections of the city. Camel saddles to carburetors, water pipes to water skis, Korans to comic books-Jid da's arcaded suqs offer goods that span the centuries. Customers may bargain for prayer rugs, tent poles, transistor radios, air con ditioners, or holy water from Mecca. Here a veiled Bedouin wife carries home a roll of palm matting. Machine-woven carpets from Italy hang from rafters.