The Diriyah Gate Development Authority is celebrating its fifth anniversary.
Once complete, the Diriyah restoration project will feature some of the world’s most luxurious restaurants and hotels, built in traditional Najdi architectural style, alongside conservation areas and cultural venues.
Curved along the outskirts of Riyadh, and formed on an oasis that split from the banks of Wadi Hanifah, Diriyah’s mud-brick walls once housed a thriving desert city that was a powerhouse of culture and commerce.
Diriyah’s At-Turaif district, with its famous citadel, was the original seat of power for the Kingdom’s Al-Saud family. In 1727, the city was named the country’s capital, laying the foundations for what would later become a unified Saudi Arabia.
In 2010, almost three centuries later, the ruins of At-Turaif were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Then, in July 2017, the area became the subject of a painstaking restoration plan aimed at bringing its historical legacy back to life.
In his special column to celebrate the 5th anniversary, Jerry Inzerillo, the group CEO of the DGDA, said: “Nothing compares to the scale of what King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are doing in Saudi Arabia.”
He thanked the crown prince for his dynamic vision that has allowed Diriyah to advance to its current stage. “As we stand at the threshold of opening this autumn, Diriyah will stand as a global cultural and commercial gathering place by virtue of the Kingdom’s leadership,” he said.
According to Kiran Haslam, the organization’s chief marketing officer, what is magnificent about the authority is the authenticity of the experiences it will offer.
“It’s a big project, it’s a complex project, but it’s one which is always rooted in humanity, culture, and interaction. That’s what really sets the project apart,” he said.
Highlighting examples of the authority’s attention to detail during the development of Diriyah, he said: “It’s sort of the humanity which is linking all the projects, all of those experiences, all of those locales and initiatives. And the entire project in itself is human scale.”
In Inzerillo’s words: “It will be an iconic tourist destination and be synonymous with where the Kingdom and wider Arabian Peninsula’s story began.”