Dubai: Saudi Arabia announced that work has begun on the first phase of the development of the Ad Diriyah historical site at a value of SR75 billion, Saudi Press Agency said on Tuesday.
The Ad Diriyah Gate Development project aims to preserve heritage architecture and create a modern mixed-use community with museums, hotels, exhibition halls and an amphitheatre.
The Ad Diriyah Gate Development Authority is the official entity tasked with overseeing the implementation of the world’s largest historical preservation and restoration project.
The development will see the creation of 20 international hotel brands with 3,100 rooms and 15,000-seat amphitheatre that will host outdoor sporting events, including Formula E.
Covering an area of seven square kilometres, the site will include five areas to explore: King Salman Square, Samhan Amphitheater; Monument Square; Al Masjid square and a historic village.
Places, streets, gates, towers and squares will be given names inspired by famous historical figures, kings and heroes to celebrate the country’s ancient heritage. Six museums will also be built to display history, contemporary art, culture and innovation.
25 million visitors
One of the museums is the Museum of Al Saud House, which will include a pavilion dedicated to King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz. The historic Ad Diriyah will be turned into one of the most important tourist, cultural and recreational destinations in the region and the entire world. Upon completion, the project is expected to attract 25 million visitors and tourists every year, from the kingdom and beyond.
The first phase of the project involves the development of Al Bujairi area to offer an exceptional lifestyle for tourists and visitors.
The Ad Diriyah Gate Development project is one of five giant projects currently underway, which are expected to provide ample impetus to the kingdom’s flourishing tourism industry and attract millions of tourists to explore the country’s hidden gem and authentic heritage.
The history of Ad Diriyah goes back thousands of years. It was once an ancient trade and pilgrimage route and a meeting point for those travelling to or from Asia, Africa or Europe.
Ad Diriyah is a town located on the north-western outskirts of Saudi capital Riyadh. It was the original home of the Saudi royal family, and served as the capital of the Emirate of Diriyah under the first Saudi dynasty from 1744 to 1818.
Today, the town is the seat of Ad Diriyah Governorate, which also includes the villages of Uyayna, Jubayla, and Al Ammariyyah, among others, and is part of Riyadh Province.
While initially being a small oasis on the banks of Wadi Hanifa, Ad Diriyah then became the birthplace of the Saudi states, and quickly grew to become a thriving economic, political and military hub. In the 18th century, Ad Diriyah then became the birthplace of the modern Saudi kingdom. At its core is the Unesco-listed site of At Turaif.
The ruins of the old city of Ad Diriyah lay on either side of the narrow valley known as Wadi Hanifa, which continues southwards through Riyadh and beyond. Consisting almost entirely of mud-brick structures, the ruins are divided into three districts, Ghussaibah, Al Mulaybeed and Turaif, which lies on top of hills overlooking the valley.