Saudi Arabia aims to attract 100 million visitors annually before 2030. On the outskirts of the Saudi capital, Riyadh, another mega project in Diriyah aims to attract 27 million of those visitors to a 14-square-kilometer site full of historical and cultural attractions.
Diriyah is the home of the Al-Turaif district, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and the site of the first Saudi state, which was established in 1727.
Promoting the culture of Diriyah
The Group CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, Jerry Inzerillo, has been tasked with making this happen.
“We are committed to preserving and promoting the history and culture of the city. We look forward to welcoming visitors from all over the world to bear witness to its beauty and be part of the legacy it represents,” Inzerillo emphasized.
The Diriyah project, worth $63.2 billion, is “one of the largest and most complex projects in the world,” according to Inzerillo.
The first phases of the master plan opened at the end of 2022, and include the Al-Turaif district, with galleries and new museums charting the history of Diriyah, along with the remains of the city walls, royal palaces, and mosques.
About 38 new hotels and resorts will open in Diriyah, including properties of famous brands such as “Ritz-Carlton”, “Park Hyatt” and “Raffles”, in addition to 6 museums, 26 cultural landmarks, and more than 100 markets.
Gardens in Diriyah
Six gardens with tens of thousands of trees will cover an area of 2.6 square kilometers and will include walking, cycling, and horseback riding paths.
Events will also be one of the main axes of the destination.
The 2022 edition of the Diriyah season started in October and continued until February 22.
The season included exciting events such as the “Formula E Diriyah 2023 race” in January, and concerts by artists such as John Legend, “French Montana” and Martin Garrix.
Diriyah’s palm groves are currently being transformed with the help of immersive light installations by international and Saudi artists as part of the “Diriyah Nights” sessions.
Team of Saudi guides
A team of 30 young Saudi guides is reviving heritage sites in the Al-Turaif district.
The team leads visitors through the galleries and touches on topics such as equestrianism, traditional architecture, currency, and trade.
Visitors may find themselves exploring the site in the company of a member of the royal family, as the team of guides includes 30-year-old Princess Al Jawhara Abdul Mohsen Al Saud.
The princess told CNN that visiting the Al-Turaif neighborhood with her family encouraged her to participate in the country’s thriving tourism industry, stressing: “I knew I wanted to be part of (the process of) preserving and sharing this cultural treasure.”