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US Consulate, Jeddah

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US Consulate
(Source: Space Imaging, 28 Jun 02)

(Source: Space Imaging, 28 Jun 02)

For over sixty years, the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have enjoyed a strong relationship based upon mutual respect and common interests. Diplomatic relations were established in 1933. The US Embassy opened in Jeddah in 1944 and moved to Riyadh in 1984. In addition to the Embassy, the American government maintains consulates in Jeddah and in Dhahran. The United States and Saudi Arabia share a common concern for regional security, oil exports and imports, and sustainable development.

Some 10,000 Americans live in the Jeddah consular district, which encompasses the whole of western Saudi Arabia from Yemen to Jordan. Many work for large firms such as Raytheon and Boeing, but a considerable number are employed by smaller international and Saudi companies. Most live in Western-style company or private housing compounds.

As a result of the continuing terrorist threat in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates General in Saudi Arabia became one-year unaccompanied posts effective August 12, 2004. The Embassy continues to receive new information suggesting that additional terrorist actions against both official and unofficial US and Western interests in Saudi Arabia remain possible. These reports are cause for concern and reinforce the need for continued vigilance and alertness.

On 06 December 2004 gunmen blasted their way into the US consulate in Jeddah, killing at least five non-American employees. Four members of the Saudi national guard who responded to the attack were also killed, as were three of the militants. According to a senior Saudi official in the capital Riyadh, no Americans were taken hostage in the attack against the US consulate in Jeddah. But the official said third-country nationals were briefly taken hostage before the consulate was secured. The official said four members of the Saudi security forces were killed, and several others were wounded during a gun battle that erupted after five attackers made their way inside the consulate compound. The attackers struck the consulate with explosive devices at two compound gates. Shortly afterward, the attackers opened fire with automatic weapons. A senior Saudi government official said it appeared the attackers used hand grenades in, what he called, a diversionary tactic, while others entered the compound firing their weapons.

The Consulate General compound, covering 29 acres, about 4 miles from the center of town in the Al-Hamra District, once overlooked the Red Sea. When originally built, it stood outside town in the desert. Today, landfills have pushed the seashore west, and new houses, office buildings, and shopping centers surround the compound. The compound contains homes for the Consul General and some post personnel, as well as the Consulate General building, Marine House, Health Unit, GSO maintenance facilities, snack bar (also known as the "Sheikh and Bake"), swimming pool, two tennis courts, basketball and volleyball courts, gym, and a children's playground.

Housing is located on the Consulate compound and five other housing compounds and most residences are within 15 to 25 minutes of the Consulate or the schools. All personnel assigned to Jeddah live in government-owned or -leased quarters. On-compound housing includes the Consul General's home, the Ambassador's villa, the Marine House, and five small houses. Twenty-six off-compound houses are within a 20-minute drive from the Consulate General.

The Consul General's home is a one-story, concrete block house with six bedrooms, a family living room, six-and-a-half baths, three reception rooms, dining room, kitchen, work pantry, laundry room, storage room, and four domestic employees' quarters with adjoining bath. Other on-compound Crawford houses have three or four bedrooms, two baths, and a laundry/storage room and some have small dens.

Off-compound housing units are typically detached or semidetached townhouses located in large Western-style compounds with recreation facilities including swimming pools, tennis courts, exercise rooms, etc. These usually have a living room, dining room, den and/or family room, kitchen, three bedrooms, two or three baths, and domestic quarters.

The Consulate General has a volleyball/basketball court, a large children's playground, tennis courts, and a swimming pool for U.S. Government personnel, their dependents, and guests. Dressing rooms, bathrooms and showers are within the pool complex. A spacious concrete area surrounds the pool and is equipped with tables and chairs. In addition, similar facilities are located at the various residential compounds where the majority of Consulate General personnel are housed.

Organized sports leagues for both adults and children include volleyball, softball, two running clubs, tennis, squash, basketball, Little League baseball, bowling, cricket, and rugby. Except for these leagues and occasional soccer matches (open to men only), no regular spectator sports exist in Jeddah. The employee association maintains membership at a club which offers a 9-hole, par 3, golf course as well as horseback riding and lessons, which are available for use by employees and their dependents.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:39:49 ZULU