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A History of Jeddah
The Gate to Mecca in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries


  • Date Published: March 2020
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108478793

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About the Authors
  • Known as the 'Gate to Mecca' or 'Bride of the Red Sea', Jeddah has been a gateway for pilgrims travelling to Mecca and Medina and a station for international trade routes between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean for centuries. Seen from the perspective of its diverse population, this first biography of Jeddah traces the city's urban history and cosmopolitanism from the late Ottoman period to its present-day claim to multiculturalism, within the conservative environment of the Arabian Peninsula. Contextualising Jeddah with developments in the wider Muslim world, Ulrike Freitag investigates how different groups of migrants interacted in a changing urban space and how their economic activities influenced the political framework of the city. Richly illustrated, this study reveals how the transformation of Jeddah's urban space, population and politics has been indicative of changes in the wider Arab and Red Sea region, re-evaluating its place in the Middle East at a time when both its cosmopolitan practices and old city are changing dramatically against a backdrop of modernisation and Saudi nation-building.

    • An urban history considered through the perspective of Jeddah's diverse population comprised of long-distance merchants, shipping magnates and ex-slaves
    • Will appeal to historians of the modern Middle East, as well as those with an interest in urban history and the social and political history of Saudi Arabia
    • Re-evaluates Jeddah's place in the Middle East against the backdrop of modernisation and Saudi nation-building
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A painstakingly researched urban history of conviviality, mobility and diversity. Freitag brings to life the true power of place through a granular, deeply felt and skilfully executed study of Jeddah's peoples, spaces and institutions over one hundred years or so of the city's more recent history.' Nelida Fuccaro, New York University, Abu Dhabi

    'Drawing on a wealth of sources in many languages, Freitag's textured and compelling analysis succeeds brilliantly at showing Jeddah's unique position in a rapidly changing, interconnected world that spanned the Ottoman Empire, the Middle East, and the Indian Ocean region from the mid-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries. A must read.' Thomas Kuehn, Simon Fraser University

    'Drawing on a dazzling array of sources in Arabic and other languages, this rich and brilliantly researched book offers a conceptually sophisticated history of a major Arabian port and the 'Gate to Mecca.' Dynamically interweaving the global, regional and the local, and with a nuanced sensitivity to insider and commoner dimensions, Freitag makes a phenomenal contribution to the study of urban cosmopolitanisms in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean worlds.' Jonathan Miran, Western Washington University

    'An in-depth and lively history of Jeddah. With her command of both local and foreign literature and the use of an astonishing documentation, Ulrike Freitag make us dive into the history of Mecca's 'entrance' up to the present, and into the connecting point of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.' Philippe Pétriat, Panthéon-Sorbonne University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108478793
    • length: 404 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 168 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.76kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: why Jeddah?
    2. Between sea and land: Jeddah through the ages
    3. The changing faces of Jeddah
    4. The changing urban space of Jeddah
    5. Solidarity and competition: the socio-cultural foundations of life in Jeddah
    6. The economic lifelines of Jeddah: trade and pilgrimage
    7. Governing and regulating diversity: urban government in Jeddah
    8. The disappearance and return of old Jeddah: on the temporality of translocal relations.

  • Author

    Ulrike Freitag, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient
    Ulrike Freitag is Director of Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient and Professor of Islamic Studies at Freie Universität, Berlin. She is author of Indian Ocean Migrants and State Formation in Hadhramaut (2002) and co-editor of several volumes on urban history, including Urban Violence in the Middle East (2015).

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