Riyadh anticipates return of Diriyah Season

Diriyah Season cultural showcase includes immersive art installations and exhibitions, live and theatrical performances, and culinary experiences that celebrate both traditional and contemporary cuisine. (Diriyah Season)
Diriyah Season cultural showcase includes immersive art installations and exhibitions, live and theatrical performances, and culinary experiences that celebrate both traditional and contemporary cuisine. (Diriyah Season)
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Updated 06 December 2023
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Riyadh anticipates return of Diriyah Season

Riyadh anticipates return of Diriyah Season
  • Three-month cultural calendar is full of surprises that will take you through Kingdom’s culture and heritage

RIYADH: The 2023-2024 Diriyah Season is set to begin on Dec. 12 with a curated three-month calendar of events that combines arts and culture, and live performances and experiences that showcase nearly 600 years of history and heritage.

The season is off to a musically spectacular start with an exceptional lineup of cultural concerts. Tickets for the first cultural concept, featuring the Saudi music legends Rabeh Saqr and Ayed performing in Mayadeen theater, will go on sale on Dec. 10.




Diriyah Season cultural showcase includes immersive art installations and exhibitions, live and theatrical performances, and culinary experiences that celebrate both traditional and contemporary cuisine. (Diriyah Season)

This year’s theme honors Diriyah’s story and celebrates Al-Awja in a rallying call for all Saudis to unite and celebrate their shared culture and identity.

The season will be set in five distinct Diriyah locations: Wadi Safar, which will feature a Diriyah cultural basecamp; the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site At-Turaif; Bujairi Terrace; the Mayadeen theater; and Diriyah district.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Diriyah Season is set to begin on Dec. 12 and will conclude in March.

• The theater will also host a theatrical equestrian show and cultural concerts.

• For the first time, Bujairi Terrace will feature a themed escape room called ‘Journey to the Future.’

• For more information, check diriyah.sa/season.

The season “blends the old with the new and takes us on a journey of self-discovery as we reconnect with our authentic selves. This is not just entertainment; it’s entertainment with meaning,” said Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of Diriyah Gate Development Authority.

“We want people from all over the world to see 300 years of our music, our food, our tents, our costuming, our storytelling, our poetry, our calligraphy,” Inzerillo said.




Diriyah Season cultural showcase includes immersive art installations and exhibitions, live and theatrical performances, and culinary experiences that celebrate both traditional and contemporary cuisine. (Diriyah Season)

The Diriyah E-Prix championship, immersive art installations and exhibitions, live and theatrical performances, plus culinary experiences that celebrate both traditional and contemporary cuisine, are also planned for the season.

The Culinary Arts Commission of the Ministry of Culture will present Shetana, an outdoor winter-evening Saudi culinary experience, every day for four weeks at the Mayadeen theater. There will be a theatrical equestrian show and cultural concerts at the theater as well.




Ahmad Alnuaisri, Diriyah Company assistant manager of media relations

Bujairi Terrace, the fine dining destination, will include an expanded return of Layali Diriyah, which sees one of Diriyah’s heritage farms transformed into an open-air illuminated wonderland, showcasing the best of local and international contemporary art, design, cuisine, dance, live music, poetry and theatrical performances.

For the first time, Bujairi Terrace will also feature a themed escape room called “Journey to the Future,” which will test players’ escape skills and explore the Kingdom’s historical narratives.

What is special about the Diriyah escape room is that it will carry a cultural aspect and requires reviewing your cultural and historical information to solve the puzzles at hand.

Ahmad Alnuaisri, Diriyah Company assistant manager of media relations

“The themed escape room is a unique experience. It is an activity that requires one to be a quick thinker, and quick at making decisions and solving puzzles,” said Ahmad Alnuaisri, assistant manager of media relations at Diriyah Company.

“What is special about the Diriyah escape room is that it will carry a cultural aspect and requires reviewing your cultural and historical information to solve the puzzles at hand,” he said.




Jerry Inzerillo, Diriyah Gate Development Authority CEO

This season’s events planned for the At-Turaif historic district include poetry pop-ups, workshops, a retrospective, an exhibition, Souq Al-Mawsim, and more.

The At-Turaif retrospective explores and embraces the values of At-Turaif’s continuing influence on the Kingdom while bringing Diriyah’s stories and memories together in a multimedia installation. The “Diriyah Doors” exhibition explores the significance and history of the vividly colored, intricately patterned and engraved doors in Diriyah and Najd.

We want people from all over the world to see 300 years of our music, our food, our tents, our costuming, our storytelling, our poetry, our calligraphy.

Jerry Inzerillo, Diriyah Gate Development Authority CEO

The season, which ends in March, is predicted to strengthen the Kingdom’s tourism sector by bringing in both local and international visitors and generating 178,000 jobs for young Saudis.

“Even though we’re a 2030 project, we opened assets in 2022 including our UNESCO site … we’ve already had 1 million visits,” Inzerillo said.

“And now the numbers are growing, and we’ll have a million people that will visit us … until Ramadan when this Diriyah season concludes,” he said.

The 2023-2024 Diriyah Season is presented by Diriyah Company in partnership with Diriyah Gate Development Authority.

 

 


Saudi shoppers flock to take advantage of Founding Day discounts

Saudi shoppers flock to take advantage of Founding Day discounts
Updated 5 sec ago
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Saudi shoppers flock to take advantage of Founding Day discounts

Saudi shoppers flock to take advantage of Founding Day discounts
  • The Kingdom celebrates Founding Day on Feb. 22 each year to mark its establishment by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in 1727 CE

RIYADH: A host of celebrations will take place across Saudi Arabia on Thursday to commemorate the founding of the country.

The Kingdom celebrates Founding Day on Feb. 22 each year to mark its establishment by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in 1727 CE.

Various events organized by the Ministry of Culture, such as Founding Nights, Symphony of the Beginning, Path of History and Founding Village, will be held around the country until Feb. 26. Other festivities will include fireworks, traditional dancing, drone displays, live shows and military performances.

A ministry statement said the events would underscore the “deep-rooted pride in national heritage, the solid bond between the citizenry and leadership, and the enduring legacy of progress and prosperity.” 

Those seeking Founding Day bargains are also in luck, as many businesses — including airlines, hotels, restaurants, cafes and more — are offering promotions and discounts of up to 85 percent to mark the occasion.

The Ministry of Commerce is allowing commercial establishments to issue discount licenses through a special online platform, sales.mc.gov.sa, until Feb. 28. Consumers can verify the discounts by scanning the relevant barcode.

Riyadh resident Nadine Khaled said: “As a woman, I believe it’s a great opportunity for shopping. I honestly look forward to it every year to purchase all my favorite products, from perfumes to makeup and cosmetics, and even spa packages.”

Faisal Mohammed, a tech enthusiast who also lives in Riyadh, added: “The Founding Day sale on tech gadgets is the perfect opportunity to enhance my collection.”


King Salman receives written message from Tajikistan’s president

King Salman receives written message from Tajikistan’s president
Updated 1 min 7 sec ago
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King Salman receives written message from Tajikistan’s president

King Salman receives written message from Tajikistan’s president
  • Message addressed ways to bolster bilateral relations in various fields

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received a written message on Wednesday from Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The message addressed ways to bolster bilateral relations in various fields.
It was received by Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji during his meeting with Akram Karimi, the ambassador of Tajikistan to Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh.
During the meeting, the officials discussed ties between their two countries as well as other issues of mutual interest.


Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day

Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day
Updated 27 min 5 sec ago
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Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day

Neymar dons Saudi attire to celebrate Founding Day

RIYADH: Brazilian football star Neymar caught everyone’s attention when he appeared wearing traditional Saudi clothes during preparations for the Kingdom’s Founding Day celebrations.

His club, Al-Hilal, shared photographs of the player wearing the thobe, shemagh and headband famously associated with the late King Abdulaziz, showcasing the general atmosphere ahead of the day.

Neymar was accompanied by Esteve Calzada, the CEO of Al-Hilal, and Portuguese coach Jorge Jesus, along with other teammates, and trended on social media platform X dancing the Ardah, Saudi’s national dance.

The widely adopted white thobe in the Kingdom, favored for its comfort in the hot climate and desert setting, is complemented by other traditional attire for special occasions. This includes Oughal Almorudan, worn over the thobe, distinguished by its long arms and commonly donned during Ardah performances.

The 32-year-old recently returned to Riyadh to continue his rehabilitation after undergoing surgery for a ruptured cruciate ligament in his left knee. He sustained the injury during Brazil’s loss to Uruguay in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers last October.

Founding Day is celebrated in the Kingdom on Feb. 22 each year to commemorate its establishment by Imam Mohammed bin Saud in 1727 CE.

The Saudi Ministry of Sports recently announced the 21st round of the Roshan Professional League tournament would be named the Founding Round to symbolize the day’s significance.

Neymar is not the only player to celebrate Founding Day with his Saudi fans. Last year, Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo was shown wearing traditional attire along with his Al-Nassr teammates.


Albania honors MWL chief for promoting global harmony

Albania honors MWL chief for promoting global harmony
Updated 42 min 54 sec ago
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Albania honors MWL chief for promoting global harmony

Albania honors MWL chief for promoting global harmony
  • MWL Secretary-General Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa met with Edi Rama and Bajram Begaj
  • MWL chief also engaged in a round-table discussion and dinner with Albania’s religious leaders

JEDDAH: Muslim World League Secretary-General Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa met on Wednesday Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in the capital Tirana.

The prime minister invited the MWL to organize an international conference in Tirana to foster understanding and cooperation among societies with the aim of enhancing global awareness of religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity, drawing on Albania’s experience.

During the meeting, the two parties discussed several topics of mutual interest, and Rama commended the MWL’s global efforts in promoting harmony among diverse societies.

President Bajram Begaj of Albania also met the MWL chief and granted him the highest honor of Albania, the State Order for World-Renowned Spiritual Figures.

During the meeting, they discussed topics of common interest, and the president praised the influential global role of the MWL.

The MWL chief also engaged in a round-table discussion and dinner with Albania’s religious leaders, marking an unprecedented occasion that brought together such influential figures for the first time in Albania’s history.

This landmark event was attended by high-ranking Albanian ministers and members of the diplomatic corps.


‘Let us celebrate what’s uniquely Saudi. We own this culture,’ DGDA CEO tells Arab News on Founding Day

‘Let us celebrate what’s uniquely Saudi. We own this culture,’ DGDA CEO tells Arab News on Founding Day
Updated 21 February 2024
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‘Let us celebrate what’s uniquely Saudi. We own this culture,’ DGDA CEO tells Arab News on Founding Day

‘Let us celebrate what’s uniquely Saudi. We own this culture,’ DGDA CEO tells Arab News on Founding Day
  • Jerry Inzerillo says Diriyah “is the birthplace of the Kingdom. This is the source of our identity”
  • In four months’ time, Inzerillo marks six-year anniversary of his appointment as DGDA

RIYADH: Diriyah Gate Development Authority Group CEO Jerry Inzerillo is highlighting the Kingdom’s rich historical roots this Founding Day.

“Founding Day for all of us in Diriyah is special. It’s who we are,” Inzerillo told Arab News.

“Let us celebrate what’s uniquely Saudi. We own this culture, there’s a lot of pride in it. There are 238 countries in the world. But this (Diriyah) is the birthplace of the Kingdom. This is the source of our identity. This is the source of our national pride. Let’s rejoice who we are as a people.”

In what he described as a celebration of pride and culture, Inzerillo welcomed people from around the world to come to Diriyah to experience the rich history of the Kingdom’s birthplace.

“Let them come and receive a warm welcome. Let them be festive and joyful, safe and secure and sound with a great quality of life, which is what Diriyah represents and what the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and certainly what Vision 2030 represents,” he told Arab News.

FASTFACTS

  • On Feb. 1, 2022, Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers made an announcement declaring Feb. 22 of each year as Founding Day.
  • The day commemorates the foundation of the First Saudi State in 1727 by Imam Mohammed bin Saud.

This is a celebration of national pride linking the historical roots of the First Saudi State nearly 300 years ago to the modern Kingdom today, celebrating history culture and identity through Founding Day, he said.

On Feb. 1, 2022, the Council of Ministers made an announcement declaring Feb. 22 of each year as Founding Day to commemorate the foundation of the First Saudi State in 1727 by Imam Mohammed bin Saud.

A celebration of the Kingdom’s deep historical and cultural roots, Founding Day marks a key moment in Saudi Arabia’s timeline — the day Imam Muhammad bin Saud assumed power in Diriyah, the capital of the First Saudi State.

DGDA’s group CEO Jerry Inzerillo welcomed people from around the world to come to Diriyah to experience the rich history of the Kingdom’s birthplace. (DGDA)

“Founding Day is very special, you know we all love National Day, September 23rd is a great day, everybody is out in the street jubilant and festive as we get ready for 94 years of national pride. But Founding Day is very special because that has to do with the 300-year history of the Kingdom and especially its birthplace, Diriyah,” Inzerillo said.

During his interview with Arab News, Inzerillo reflected on the nearly six years he has been group CEO of DGDA, working closely with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in bringing the vision of Diriyah to fruition.

“When you have the privilege to serve at this time with two great visionaries — the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques — I always praise King Salman, he deserves our love and praise because because if it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t have At-Turaif, we wouldn’t have the birthplace of the Kingdom celebrated as it is,” Inzerillo said.

“When we think about the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, his love has always been Diriyah. The Kingdom and its people, of course, but in his heart he has always had a special love for Diriyah,” he said.

Inzerillo expressed his pride in seeing the dream of King Salman realized. “To see his (King Salman’s) dream coming out of the ground — to see his royal highness, the crown prince, his vision, a vision of 2030 where people are enjoying themselves … people festive, happy, laughing with their families, joyful in beautiful park settings and around the mud of the UNESCO site.”

Diriyah represents and what the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and certainly what Vision 2030 represents. (DGDA)

Inzerillo said that this past Saturday, the At-Turaif World UNESCO Heritage Site had 13,000 visitors and both the Al-Bujairi Terrace sold out, as well as the Diriyah Nights Layali Diriyah.

“This is what quality of life is all about. During the daytime you see people jogging, having picnics with their families, horseback, on bicycles. This is what quality of life is like. So, to see that Diriyah as a community can bring enjoyment to its community first and to the community of Riyadh and to the Kingdom is a source of pride,” he said.

Inzerillo lauded Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for what the CEO describes as “a fabulous master plan.” He said: “We have to give him immense credit.”

Inzerillo highlighted what it has been like to work closely with the crown prince, praising his dedication to the Kingdom’s projects and the attentiveness and care he gives people.

“The more I work, with a daily, weekly basis with his royal highness, the more admiration I have for him and I didn’t think that could be more than 10 out of 10, but considering his global leadership, especially during the time of crisis that we have in the Middle East right now, to see his global leadership role into making the region safe and prosperous with a good quality of life from everybody is amazing,” Inzerillo said.

He highlighted the extensive role the crown prince has — detailing that the crown prince is presiding as prime minister over a G20 country while presiding over different master plans in the Kingdom with the aim of “making life better for not only the people in Saudi Arabia but also people in the region and in the world.”

DGDA’s group CEO Jerry Inzerillo says, “Diriyah lives in the heart of every Saudi, it is the source of our national pride, it is the source of our identity as a people.” (DGDA)

He said: “To see how devoted he (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) is and how much time he gives all of us — not just his ministers, which I would suggest to you are probably the finest cabinet ministers in the world now as a collection of ministers — but even all of his CEOs that he is chairman of, he affords them the time, he’s in the details, he cares and he always asks, ‘How about the staff? ‘How is everyone doing, how is the team?’ ‘Send them my best.”

Inzerillo said: “His empathy, his dedication and his time that he gives us is really remarkable for all of his responsibilities.”

Inzerillo became CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority in June 2018, and in four months marks the six-year anniversary of his appointment.

He said that it has been a privilege to serve the Kingdom as DGDA CEO, highlighting his pride to work with what he describes as “super people” — young Saudis and expats from all around the world who he said were helping to achieve the mission of 2030.

“I think back and I think what a privilege it has been,” he said.

“Diriyah has always been special, it lives in the heart of every Saudi, it is the source of our national pride, it is the source of our identity as a people, it’s where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia originated.

“(Diriyah) is not only the birthplace of the Kingdom and of the Arabian Peninsula, but it is the home of Al-Saud, one great family that with vision and perseverance in unity has kept the Kingdom together for over 300 years.”

The CEO outlined what the future holds for the Diriyah Gate Development Authority.

“This year — hotel openings, museums openings, more parks opening, you know, many different types of assets opening. So every year, every December, like we did December 2021, December 2022 to December 2023, and December 2024, we will have assets open, groundbreaking new assets and announcing new assets until it culminates in the fabulous Expo Riyadh 2030.”