Discovering hidden treasures of Diriyah, jewel of Saudi Arabia

Discovering hidden treasures of Diriyah, jewel of Saudi Arabia
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Filled with stories and legends, Diriyah offers a glimpse into the past with its well-preserved landmarks and architectural wonders. (Supplied)
Discovering hidden treasures of Diriyah, jewel of Saudi Arabia
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The Attire of Imam Mohammed Ibn Saud in Diriyah Museum. (Supplied)
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Updated 21 February 2024
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Discovering hidden treasures of Diriyah, jewel of Saudi Arabia

Discovering hidden treasures of Diriyah, jewel of Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Rich in historical and cultural significance, Diriyah sparks the imagination and curiosity of travelers and history lovers.

At-Turaif, a historic district in Diriyah, northwest of Riyadh, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Diriyah is of great significance as the birthplace of the first Saudi state.

Filled with stories and legends, Diriyah offers a glimpse into the past with its well-preserved landmarks and architectural wonders.

Egyptian traveler Sara Hamed visited At-Turaif district and Diriyah on a winter night.

She told Arab News: “I learned that Saudi Arabia originated here, and it’s a fantastic site to begin your journey through the nation’s past.




Filled with stories and legends, Diriyah offers a glimpse into the past with its well-preserved landmarks and architectural wonders. (Supplied)

“I was fascinated by the section displaying traditional outerwear because I am interested in fashion, and I really enjoyed the exquisite museum that displayed historical and customary items belonging to well-known figures like Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud.”

Through ongoing revitalization efforts, Diriyah is becoming a cultural and tourism hub showcasing the best of Saudi Arabia’s heritage and innovation.

Eyup Yurtseven, from Turkiye, said: “Diriyah whispers history at every corner. Cobbled streets echo with memories of laughter shared with friends over steaming coffee, nestled within old-style buildings. For me, it’s more than a place; it’s a balm for the soul.

“Whenever stress claws at my days, I escape to Diriyah’s embrace. Palms sway gently, offering shade and whispered secrets to the wind. Oxygen-rich air washes away worry, replaced by the peace of being present.

“I can’t wait to witness the magic unfold, while forever cherishing the haven it already is,” he added.

When Kenda Nabeel, from Jeddah, first visited Diriyah, she was intrigued by the museum’s use of technology and the way it linked the past with the present.

She said: “The entire experience was wonderful and simple. I toured Salwa Palace, a historical site that captures a significant period in the Kingdom’s history by acting as a window looking out onto the first Saudi state’s founding.




The Attire of Imam Mohammed Ibn Saud in Diriyah Museum. (Supplied)

“Everything is very easily accessible, and I enjoy learning about the past. I particularly enjoyed the way information was delivered using unconventional technology, such as videos played on a projector. It was the best thing I could have found in Riyadh, combining elements of both history and the modern era.”

There are several museums in Diriyah, including the Museum of Traditional Architecture, Military Museum, Museum of Treasury (Beit Al-Maal), and the Horse Museum.

The Museum of Traditional Architecture features paintings that chronicle the history of the use of clay in construction, as well as the history of architecture and building in the Najd region, covering all phases of construction and their methods.

The Museum of Treasury showcases different currencies, trade techniques, as well as examples of generosity during the first Saudi state’s history and different kinds of endowments. There are also exhibits about the economic system utilized to run the affairs of Beit Al-Maal.

The stories of battles and defensive actions that took place in Diriyah throughout the first Saudi state’s existence are embodied in the Military Museum. Amid mud buildings, it showcases combat weaponry and related apparatus.

The Ardah troupe’s headquarters, located in Thunayan Bin Saud Palace’s northern square, is also part of the museum.

Some of the mud dwellings from the first Saudi state are now available to rent, allowing visitors to experience the intricacies of Diriyah’s past. The Social Life Museum offers a detailed insight into community life during the era.

The Arabian horse holds significant cultural value in the region, and the museum presents the history of Arabian horses during the first Saudi state, including information on their breeding, origins, and artifacts that belonged to the older knights.

The best time to visit Diriyah is during winter, from October to March, avoiding the summer heat. But it is becoming a year-round tourist destination with a full calendar of events and attractions.


Saudi Arabia to host Islamic Development Bank Group annual meetings and golden jubilee

Saudi Arabia to host Islamic Development Bank Group annual meetings and golden jubilee
Updated 17 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia to host Islamic Development Bank Group annual meetings and golden jubilee

Saudi Arabia to host Islamic Development Bank Group annual meetings and golden jubilee
  • As the bank celebrates its 50th anniversary, the meetings will have the theme ‘Taking Pride in Our Past and Shaping Our Future: Authenticity, Solidarity and Prosperity’

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will host the annual meetings and golden jubilee celebrations of the Islamic Development Bank Group in Riyadh between April 27 and 30, under the patronage of King Salman.

This year’s meetings will take place under the theme “Taking Pride in Our Past and Shaping Our Future: Authenticity, Solidarity and Prosperity,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The bank describes itself as a pivotal platform for development dialogue, and said it is celebrating 50 years of fostering social and economic growth among its members. As a leading multilateral development bank, it said it expects the event to attract significant international and regional attention.

Participants will include economic, planning and finance ministers from the 57 member countries of the bank, along with representatives of international and regional financial agencies and organizations, Islamic banks, the private sector, development finance institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and chambers of commerce and industry.

Organizers said the annual gathering serves as a vital forum for the enhancement of economic ties and expansion of cooperation among participants. Its agenda includes forums, seminars and meetings on a range of topics, with particularly notable events including the Governors’ Round Table, the 18th IDB Global Forum on Islamic Finance, and the IDB Group Private Sector Forum.

Topics for discussion will include the role of small and medium enterprises in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 development and diversification agenda, strategies for the financing of efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, the leveraging of Islamic finance for the development of resilient infrastructure, and the establishment of the Arab Coordination Group Forum.

The Future Vision Symposium and the General Assembly of the Union of Consultants in Islamic Countries will also take place during the event.


Saudi foreign minister and Pakistan army chief discuss security and strategic cooperation

Saudi foreign minister and Pakistan army chief discuss security and strategic cooperation
Updated 17 April 2024
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Saudi foreign minister and Pakistan army chief discuss security and strategic cooperation

Saudi foreign minister and Pakistan army chief discuss security and strategic cooperation
  • Prince Faisal arrived in Pakistan on Monday for a two-day official visit, the main aim of which was to enhance economic cooperation

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, held talks in Islamabad on Tuesday with the chief of staff of the Pakistan Army, Gen. Asim Munir.

They discussed ways to enhance the “strong cooperation” between their nations in several fields, including ways to work together to improve security and strategic cooperation in ways that contribute to international peace and security.

Prince Faisal arrived in Pakistan on Monday for a two-day official visit, the main aim of which was to enhance economic cooperation. He also met President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar.

The prince was leading a high-level Saudi delegation that included Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdul Rahman Al-Fadhli, Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Al-Khorayef, and senior officials from the ministries of energy and investment, and the Public Investment Fund.


Saudi authorities highlight tourism commitments during UN Sustainability Week in New York

Saudi authorities highlight tourism commitments during UN Sustainability Week in New York
Updated 17 April 2024
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Saudi authorities highlight tourism commitments during UN Sustainability Week in New York

Saudi authorities highlight tourism commitments during UN Sustainability Week in New York
  • Tourism minister says he hopes Kingdom can help lead transformation of sector into an environmentally friendly industry that supports communities and countries

NEW YORK: The Saudi tourism minister on Tuesday reiterated the Kingdom’s commitment to sustainable development of the travel sector.

Ahmed Al-Khateeb said that under the leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has become one of the most promising and attractive global travel destinations.

He was speaking at the start of an event at the UN headquarters in New York that aims to encourage a concerted approach to enhance the resilience of the sector at the highest level and maximize its contribution to sustainability.

The event, which takes place during UN Sustainability Week, was convened by the president of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis, in cooperation with UN Tourism.

Al-Khateed highlighted the efforts the Kingdom is making to address the environmental impacts of the travel and tourism sector, and noted that those efforts had contributed to the establishment, with Saudi Support, of the World Travel and Tourism Council and the World Center for Sustainable Tourism.

During the past two years, Saudi Arabia has sought, in its role as chair of the executive council of UN Tourism, to enhance the representation of the travel and tourism sector in international forums, Al-Khateeb said.

This has resulted in UN Tourism and the Kingdom cooperating on a package of initiatives to help achieve this goal, including a Best Tourism Villages award, a Tourism Opens Minds initiative, and a working group to reimagine the future of tourism, Al-Khateeb added. He also noted his country’s efforts to ensure the tourism sector was properly represented on the agenda for UN Sustainability Week. 

Saudi Arabia topped the UN World Tourism list in 2023 in terms of growth among major tourism destinations in the number of international visitors. It also topped the list of G20 nations in terms of the number of international tourists, welcoming more than 27 million last year, Al-Khateeb said. He added that authorities in the Kingdom are developing plans and strategies to attract more than 70 million international tourists a year by 2030.

By then, he said, the Kingdom aims to have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by more than 278 million tonnes annually, designated 30 percent of land and marine territory as protected areas, and planted more than 600 million trees.

“The Kingdom has taken significant steps to launch the Sustainable Tourism Global Center, with the aim of accelerating the travel and tourism sector’s transition to climate neutrality, protecting nature and empowering communities around the world,” Al-Khateeb said.

He also highlighted major Saudi projects such as the NEOM smart city development and the Red Sea tourism project that aim to ensure they have positive effects on the climate, environment and local communities.

He also expressed the Kingdom’s aspiration for all countries to make concerted efforts, and be open to cooperation, to achieve the goal of sustainable development in the global travel and tourism sector.

Al-Khateeb said that through this important UN event, he hopes the Kingdom can spread a message to the world about the need to preserve the environment, and can help lead and support the transformation of tourism into an environmentally friendly industry that supports communities and countries worldwide.

UN Sustainability Week began on Monday at the UN headquarters in New York and continues until Friday.


Saudi crown prince discusses military escalation in the region with UAE president, Qatar emir

Saudi crown prince discusses military escalation in the region with UAE president, Qatar emir
Updated 17 April 2024
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Saudi crown prince discusses military escalation in the region with UAE president, Qatar emir

Saudi crown prince discusses military escalation in the region with UAE president, Qatar emir

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received two separate calls from UAE president Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Qatar’s emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Saudi Press Agency said early Wednesday.

The calls discussed the recent military escalation in the region and its repercussions on safety and security, in addition to the latest developments in Gaza.

They also underscored the importance of exerting efforts to prevent the situation from worsening and to spare the region the dangers of this escalation, the SPA added.


Saudi Arabia highlights its environmental and sustainability efforts at Our Ocean Conference

Saudi Arabia highlights its environmental and sustainability efforts at Our Ocean Conference
Updated 16 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia highlights its environmental and sustainability efforts at Our Ocean Conference

Saudi Arabia highlights its environmental and sustainability efforts at Our Ocean Conference
  • The Saudi delegation at the two-day event is led by the CEO of the National Center for Wildlife, Mohammed Qurban
  • During 8 previous events since the conference was launched in 2014, participants announced 2,160 commitments worth $130 billion

RIYADH: Saudi authorities showcased their programs and plans for environmental protection and sustainability initiatives on Tuesday, during the first day of the 9th Our Ocean Conference in Athens.

Delegates at this year’s event, the theme for which is “Our Ocean: An Ocean of Potential,” include representatives of governments and businesses, as well as activists and experts on marine environments, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

They are discussing topics such as protected marine areas, sustainable blue economies, maritime security, the relationship between oceans and climate change, sustainable fishing, and ways to combat marine pollution. Other issues to be addressed during the conference include sustainable tourism in coastal areas and on islands, ways to reduce plastic and microplastic pollution in marine environments, green shipping, and the green transition in the Mediterranean.

The Saudi delegation at the two-day event is led by the CEO of the National Center for Wildlife, Mohammed Qurban. The initiatives in the Kingdom highlighted at the conference revolve around ways to protect oceans and other water resources, and the sustainable utilization of marine resources.

“Our participation in the work of this global conference reflects the Kingdom’s keenness to support the efforts and endeavors aimed at achieving Sustainable Development Goals, protecting the seas, oceans and water resources, and the sustainable use of marine resources in a way that reflects the trends of the Kingdom and (its) Vision 2030 (development plan) to support environmental protection efforts,” said Qurban.

He highlighted several key national projects that are underway, including the Saudi Green Initiative, which aims to expand protected areas of the Kingdom to encompass 30 percent of its total land and sea territory, and plant 100 million mangrove trees by 2030.

“The Kingdom remains resolute in its mission to safeguard nature and its invaluable ecological treasures, with a special emphasis on the Red Sea region,” Qurban said. “We stand ready to deploy all necessary resources and efforts toward sustainable conservation endeavors.”

Participation in forums such as the Our Ocean Conference encourages the invaluable sharing of knowledge, a cross-pollination of ideas, and collaborations in the creation of innovative ways to tackle environmental challenges and promote sustainable practices, he added.

During the previous eight events since the conference was launched in 2014 by the US to fill a gap in global ocean governance at the time, participants have announced 2,160 commitments worth $130 billion, organizers said.

Other items on the agenda this year include ways in which oceans will meet the needs of future generations, ways to encourage governments, businesses and other organizations to adopt long-term commitments that have positive effects on oceans, and efforts to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals relating to oceans, seas and marine resources.