The United States in Jeddah: 80 Years of Shared History and a Strong Partnership

This year, the United States of America celebrates the 80th anniversary of its official presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This achievement marks the opening of the first US diplomatic mission in the Kingdom, on May 1, 1942, in Jeddah. Since then, the relationship between the two countries and peoples has grown to include many areas including business, security, education, science, culture, tourism, and sports.

The United States of America opened its first legation (an old term for “embassy”) in Saudi Arabia on May 1, 1942, in Jeddah, led by James S. Moss as Chargé d’Affairs. Three years later, on February 14, 1945, US President Franklin Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz Al Saud cemented the US-Saudi strategic partnership during a historic meeting aboard the USS Quincy.

Shortly after the opening, the American legation settled in the historic Batterjee house in Al-Balad, where it remained until 1953, then moved to the US Embassy established on Palestine Street. In 1984, as part of the general transportation for foreign missions, the embassy moved to Riyadh and the complex on Palestine Street was re-established as the Consulate General of the United States in Jeddah. It continued to provide services to the people of the western region of the Kingdom until it was moved to the new consulate complex in 2019, located north of Jeddah in the Muhammadiyah district.

Over the eight decades, the United States and Saudi Arabia have had a common vision. From early on, countries have allied themselves against global and regional threats. On June 18, 1951, the two countries established their first formal defense partnership: the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement. As the relationship grew, the United States of America and Saudi Arabia cooperated in partnership to address other challenges through education and cultural exchange programs, which represented the perfect bridge between the two peoples. At the same time, business partnership flourished, as Saudi and US companies entered into partnerships in a variety of sectors including infrastructure development, energy, logistics, transportation, healthcare, and tourism.

Even with the relocation of the embassy to Riyadh, the US Consulate in Jeddah continued to play a major role in strengthening and deepening relations. Over the years, American companies have set up offices in the Western Region and launched joint ventures with Saudi partners. Tens of thousands of Saudi students from across the region studied at American universities and returned to help build the kingdom. Thousands of American citizens came to perform Hajj and Umrah. Many American citizens live and work in the region, from Tabuk to Jizan.

As Saudi Arabia works to achieve the social and economic transformations outlined in Vision 2030, the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah will build on their shared history to facilitate legitimate travel to the United States, provide services to U.S. citizens in the Western Region, and facilitate innovative partnerships that support the growing and dynamic relationship between the states United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.

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