Work begins on Riyadh’s Diriyah Gate heritage resort

Construction has begun on a new suburb on a historic site in the northwest of Riyadh that is hoping to combine modern convenience with a sense of what life was like during the first Saudi regime.

Diriyah Gate will be a 7 sq km urban quarter in the At-Turaif district, which is now a Unesco World Heritage Site, but was home to the first Saudi dynasty between 1744 and 1818.

Jerry Inzerillo, the chief executive of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, said the aim was to create a "global cultural and lifestyle hub", as well as a "powerhouse of Saudi culture and commerce".    

He added that the development’s masterplan provided a new setting to "the Jewel of the Kingdom At-Turaif, coupled with … world class, contemporary assets".

The suburb is hoping to attract tourists to Riyadh, with 20 hotels and a variety of museums, as well as shops, restaurants and scenic walks with views over Wadi Hanifah, the 120km-long valley that cuts through the Saudi capital.

Although the plan is to make a walkable area, the masterplan also includes the excavation of 9 million cubic metres of soil to create 3km of tunnels and 10,500 car parking spaces.

Diriyah Gate will give a sense of the past by using, or referring to, traditional Najdi architecture. Jonathan Timms, Diriyah Gate Development Authority’s chief design officer, said the quarter would combine a "authentic Najdi-style living" with "world-class amenities … in an enhanced, pedestrian friendly, walkable city, deeply rooted in the heritage and cultural equity of the kingdom".

Images courtesy of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority

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