|STS069-702-091 Jiddah (Jeddah) Area, Saudi Arabia September 1995
The modern port city of Jiddah, located along the central west coast of Saudi Arabia, is considered to be the most cosmopolitan city in the country. Jiddah has experienced rapid growth and modern development since the early 1970's. The city is Saudi Arabia's principal seaport and transportation hub because of its industrial growth but also because of the city's dramatic increase in Islamic pilgrims who enter the country through Jiddah's worldwide connections via ships or airplanes, as the travelers trek to Mecca (Islam's holiest city), which is located 45 miles (70 km) east of Jiddah. Some of the city's infrastructure, including streets, harbor facilities, and the runways of King Abdul Aziz International Airport (immediately north of the urban area) can be seen. The darker region east of the city (bottom center) is an area of low hills, while the uniform-looking tan landscape show large areas of sand that contrasts with the dark colored waters of the Red Sea.