Jazan and Farasan Town

Jazan is a port town in the southwest of Saudi Arabia with an old castle on the hill, complete with flocks of circling black kites. There is a modern corniche complete with enormous hotels and vast play areas, designed to attract tourists; the main inhabitants are the cats that lie around without a care.

The main town on Farasan Kebir is compact and very friendly. The mornings are cloudy and it rains on one occasion which is always a cause for local celebration. The streets are narrow and the air-con units puncture the walls to create intricate patterns. The old is mixed with the new but the architecture has a rare and attractive cohesion. The exception is the hotpotch of new builds outside of the town where a spattering of residential and commercial buildings mar the empty landscape.

The town was the centre of the pearl industry for many decades and so enjoyed great wealth. The Najdi Mosque is quiet and simply beautiful; it was built by Ibrahim Al-Najdi, one of the largest pearl merchants on the island.

The House of Ahmad Al-Rifai is a beautiful pearl merchants house in the centre of the town and at dusk is quite empty while the nearby mosque is full for the Maghrib prayers.

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