What is the first impression visitors get at Jeddah Airport?

When we talk to the people who visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regularly, you would always hear the good things they have to say about how their stay has been in the Kingdom.

These visitors are not the expats that come to the Kingdom for work purposes, but the pilgrims who come to the holy land to perform Hajj and Umrah. There is a sense of security and peace that surrounds them after they have entered the Kingdom.

It doesn’t matter whether they have still reached the Holy Kaaba or not, but it’s enough for them to know that they have come home, closer to their Allah. Somehow most people tend to ignore this that the gateway for most of these pilgrims is the city of Jeddah.

Jeddah and the cities of Makkah and Madina are the three cities that are open for the pilgrims when they arrive to perform Hajj. Their visas and other rules and regulations do not permit them to move away from these three cities.

Therefore, it is very important that the city of Jeddah provides them with a good experience and doesn’t give them chills and spills that they might think their home country even treats them better.

The Jeddah International Airport which was said to be completed in 2012 is still in the process of being opened properly as to the plan it was supposed to earlier. From then on, there were again discussions that the project would be completed by 2014 though now the final date has been set for 2018.

We cannot be very sure about what hinders the opening of this magnificent airport, but for now, it scares most of the visitors. The reason behind this is the overboard rush of taxi drivers at the public area that is mostly allocated to the family and friends of all those arriving inside the country.

As soon as you move out, you’ll be surrounded by taxi drivers shouting and all asking you at the same time whether you need a cab. The moment you ask them how much, they will slam out SR 200 and then all they’ll leave you to do is keep walking while pretending that you never encountered them.

Just when you’re about to think you’ve lost them, they’ll suddenly call out to you with a fewer bid of SR 150. That’s when you’ll know you have to get rid of them and your bid will be around SR50-SR75.

Now the same taxi driver that was showering you with so much respect and friendliness will be calling you things in the language he knows while he walks the other way around. That’s the bitter truth.

Why would there be any taxi drivers in the public area in the first place? Before the airport is opened completely, there should be measures taken against this haphazardness.

No matter how good the experience of pilgrims is going to be later on, such drivers try to sabotage the first impression of the city, leaving the visitor something negative to think about already.

Source: Saudi Gazette