JEDDAH: For almost 600 years, Diriyah has been a key stopping-off point for caravans of pilgrims en route to perform Hajj.
The historic town, located on the outskirts of Riyadh, was established to cater for groups of travelers passing through Al-Yamamah region – Najd in modern-day Saudi Arabia – in terrain that traditionally presented many dangers and challenges.
Diriyah’s strategic position established it as the most important resting spot for worshippers headed for Makkah on the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Wadi Hanifah provided the chance to stock up on food and water for the journey along historic routes such as the Qiddiya highway, Seven Bends Way, and Al-Nasrah pass.
Under the rule of Manea Al-Muraydi, Diriyah became one of the greatest states of the Arabian Peninsula. In later years, his son Abdulaziz expanded by adding new districts in a bid to boost financial revenues and he played a major part in securing more Hajj routes and offering high-quality services to pilgrims during Hajj season.
Imam Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Mohammed, the state’s third leader, became the first Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The area of his rule also covered the shores of the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea, making movement safe for pilgrims traveling along different routes.
The modern-day Saudi leadership has continued to work toward improving Hajj services and accessibility for worshippers making their way through the country to perform their religious duties, and the Kingdom now hosts millions of pilgrims and visitors every year.