RIYADH: Every Tuesday in Al-Masmak Yard, Abdulrahman Alhouti, Fahad Alhdaian, and other members of Thuluthiyat AlMasmak gather to talk about Riyadh and recall memories of their beloved childhood neighborhood.
Thuluthiyat AlMasmak is a weekly gathering of a group of friends, storytellers, local historians and others interested in learning about Riyadh and the history of Saudi Arabia in general.
Similar to many locals who witnessed the impressive growth in the country in the past few years, Alhouti and Alhdaian were motivated to join this Tuesday conversation, especially since they both lived in the area near AlMasmak Palace during their childhood.
Modernization in Riyadh has surpassed all the expectations people anticipated. It left locals in awe of the remarkable transformation and inspired them to pass on stories of the city’s past and present for generations to come.
“The change is big. We are comparable to global cities now,” said Alhouti, a storyteller from Ad Dirah and Dakhnah neighborhood. His father was a notary for King Abdulaziz Al-Saud. This makes him an exceptional storyteller with interesting tales to tell.
One thing that captured his attention about the modernization of Riyadh was the process of executing projects for Vision 2030.
He said: “The vision of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman definitely surprised everyone, in terms of how quickly it was implemented. People in Riyadh, and in the Kingdom in general, were pleasantly surprised by the vision.”
Alhdaian, who is also a storyteller and friend of Alhouti, and admires modern Riyadh’s architecture, told Arab News: “The designs for buildings have changed. The urban growth has increased. I have recently heard of the Murabba project, and the reforestation of Riyadh. This is happening now, and in all neighborhoods.”
While Alhouti and Alhdaian witnessed the changes that happened in the past 50 years, Sumaiyah Abdullah observed them over the past 20. She was born and raised in Riyadh.
“I am one of the people who witnessed the developments in Riyadh. I remember when we had few shopping areas, traditional markets … such as Taiba. Then, we had the Kingdom Tower, it was a big thing for us. We used to hang out there a lot.”
She continued talking about other places that were famous at the time like Al-Faisaliah Tower.
Due to entertainment locations being limited back then, these two destinations were popular among locals, she noted, explaining how entertainment in Riyadh was one of the outcomes of the overall advancement happening in the city. Along with shopping, outdoor activities are growing in popularity.
Osama Alzahrani, a 19-year-old communication engineering student, looks at the improvement of Riyadh as a continuously flourishing future.
He said that entertainment locations earlier were limited to Ad Dirah and the Kingdom Tower. Now, people can visit Ad Diriyah, The Boulevard, King Abdullah Financial District, and Al-Masmak.
“After Riyadh Expo 2030, when we win to host it, we hope there will be more in the future,” he added.