Work has commenced on the world’s largest cultural and heritage development ‘Diriyah Gate’ in Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. The historic city, just 15 minutes north-west of Riyadh city centre, will be transformed into one of the world’s foremost lifestyle destinations for culture and heritage, hospitality, retail and education. The destination will attract local and international visitors alike through its historically sensitive reimagining of the area and world-class entertainment and events.
In line with design, development and preservation standards, Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) will create an environment that enhances Diriyah’s national and international relevance, including the preservation of the At-Turaif UNESCO World Heritage Site, which sits at the heart of the development.
Careful restoration of historic Diriyah has been undertaken to create a living heritage site which echoes the remarkable past of the first capital of Saudi Arabia. As part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, seven square kilometers of Diriyah will be transformed into one of the Kingdom’s most prominent tourism destinations. Drawing on the region’s rich past, the Najdi-inspired Diriyah Gate reflects the Najdi architecture of 300 years past, newly adapted for 21stcentury living.
Upon completion, the development will feature an array of world-class cultural, entertainment, retail, hospitality, educational, office and residential areas, including more than 20 hotels, a diverse collection of museums, a bustling retail heart and over 100 places to dine. The project includes a series of outdoor plazas as well as a 3km escarpment walk offering views across the historic Wadi Hanifah.
Diriyah Gate will comprise the Kingdom’s most walkable collection of heritage and culture offerings including more than 20 Saudi cultural attractions. The premier cultural and lifestyle destination will be home to a population of 100,000 and is set to attract 25 million visitors annually – a place to gather, explore, shop, dine, live and work.
One of the first areas to benefit from the transformation is the existing Bujairi district. Over the coming year, Bujairi will be the first of several areas of Diriyah to experience a major upgrade that will significantly beautify the area, improve infrastucture and enhance the quality of life for the community.
The new streetscape will honor the history of Diriyah with beautiful fully indigenous landscaping as well as bike tracks, horse bridle paths and natural shading for pedestrian walkways. Bujairi will soon be home to Riyadh’s new premium dining hub, enjoying uninterrupted views of At-Turaif; Diriyah Art Oasis – one of Saudi Arabia’s first arts centers dedicated to contemporary art; and a 142-key Samhan Heritage Hotel.
A key aspect of the development is the first stage of the renewal and restoration of two square kilometers of the historic Wadi Hanifah, forming part of the Diriyah Gate masterplan. These enhancements include the restoration of the historic palm groves and farms, combined with new walking trails and picnic areas for the community to gather and enjoy.
In addition to Bujairi and Wadi Hanifah, the initial activity on the ground also includes the commencement of one of the world’s most complex below-ground infrastructure projects. Requiring an immense movement of approximately nine million cubic meters of soil, equivalent to 3,600 50-meter Olympic swimming pools, the development will comprise one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated sub-surface infrastructures globally.
Excavating 15 meters below ground level, the project will result in three kilometers of tunnels and 10,500 car parking spacecs, using 1.2 million cubic meters of concrete. The first stages in the pipeline of development work will cover 1,320,000 square meters, approximately the size of 185 soccer pitches.