Jidda jĕ– [key], city (1993 est. pop. 2,058,000), Hejaz, W Saudi Arabia, on the Red Sea. Jidda is the port of Mecca (c.45 mi/72 km to the east) and annually receives a huge influx of pilgrims, mainly from Africa, Indonesia, and Pakistan. Unlike Mecca, Jidda has always accepted visitors of all religions. The diverse local population includes a large admixture of Africans, Persians, Yemenis, and Indians. Most are employed in the oil industry. There are few exports, but many goods are imported to support the pilgrims. The city is the administrative capital of Saudi Arabia. Jidda was ruled by the Turks until 1916, when it became part of the independent Hejaz. In 1925 it was conquered by Ibn Saud. Oil wealth brought expansion of the city and its seaport; the city walls came down in 1947 and a desalinization plant was built in the 1970s. Present Jidda is not more than three centuries old, but Old Jidda, c.12 mi (19 km) south of the modern city, was founded c.646 by the caliph Uthman.

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