RIYADH: The woman behind the success of the Groves, one of the 14 zones in this year’s Riyadh Season, revealed to Arab News how she realized the project in only 45 days.
“The planning ran from January till September. We had only 45 days to put it together,” said Siham Hassanain, general manager of the Groves.
“All of the designs have been done by Saudi hands. All of the restaurants are local brands Everything you see, from lighting to construction to organizers, is Saudi. The zone was built by a local company called Zivix International Holding,” she added.
The Groves, in the Diplomatic Quarter, is set in Al-Khuzama Park, one of the famous green spaces in Riyadh at Wadi Hanifah.
“It all started in 2019, I had some work to do in the diplomatic quarter, and I entered the park and fell in love with its beauty,” she said.
Hassanain said she researched the place and found out that the park was built 38 years ago when the diplomatic quarter was established.
Turki Al-Shaikh, CEO of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) and chairman of the Season, had tweeted that anyone with a new idea for Riyadh Season should present it to the authority.
“The first thing that came to my mind was Al-Khuzama Park. I didn’t expect at all, not even 1 percent, that this zone would become a reality. But I told myself I should put all of my energy in this place,” Hassanain said.
After Hassanain pitched her idea to the GEA, she was selected as one of the 20 winning initiatives for the Riyadh Season, and her concept won first place.
“When the announcement came out, I was happy and excited for the first five minutes, then the sense of responsibility kicked in,” she said.
Hassanain says the Groves is filled with trees and fields: “You can hear fountains, water, and birds. The place also has a special scent.”
The Groves’ logo has the four elements of life: water, air, fire, and earth, which Hassanain included in the zone as water resembles relaxation, fire action and attractions, earth food, and air resembles memories.
She faced many challenges while executing the project as everything was done by hand to make sure no plants or trees were destroyed.
She said she had a fantastic Saudi team who helped her and believed and loved the concept even more than she did. “I was anxious they were passionate, I was nervous they were enjoying it … so these feelings created a balance.”
Hassanain noted that in the past Saudi females faced some obstacles in being part of building the country. “Had it not been for the support and vision of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman this wouldn’t exist,” she said.
“If we compare the Boulevard Riyadh City zone in 2019 to the zone in 2021, you can see the big jump. We will amaze the whole world and become the first in the entertainment sector.”