Diriyah: Transforming Saudi Arabia with the Latest ‘Giga Project
In the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, lies a nation that’s not only steeped in ancient history but also vigorously venturing into a glorious future. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is no stranger to grand ambitions, and it’s setting its sights on a remarkable journey into the realm of tourism. With the audacious goal of attracting 100 million visitors annually by 2030, Saudi Arabia is going all out with what it terms “giga-projects” – monumental developments that form a pivotal aspect of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, fostering new economic ecosystems and driving diversification.
Vision 2030: A Bold Step Forward
Vision 2030 is the cornerstone of Saudi Arabia’s socio-economic transformation. Launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, this ambitious blueprint envisions a future beyond the nation’s dependency on oil revenue. The plan aims to create a diversified, vibrant, and thriving economy, with tourism as one of its primary catalysts. Embracing its vast cultural and historical heritage, while embracing cutting-edge innovation, the Kingdom aspires to craft an awe-inspiring destination that captivates the world.
Embarking on a Tourism Odyssey
While tourism may have just commenced its journey in the Kingdom, Saudi Arabia is leaving no stone unturned to ensure it embarks on an unforgettable odyssey. The concept of “giga-projects” is redefining the nation’s landscape and beckoning travelers from all corners of the globe. These projects showcase a fascinating blend of futurism and heritage, enticing visitors with mesmerizing experiences.
NEOM: A Futuristic Dreamland
One of the crown jewels in Saudi Arabia’s tourism vision is NEOM, a groundbreaking 170-kilometer-long car-free city known as The Line. Adorned with mirrored surfaces, The Line exemplifies environmental harmony and technological advancement. This ambitious project embodies the spirit of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, aiming to create a place where humanity can thrive in sync with nature.
Trojena: Winter Sports Extravaganza
Nestled amidst the mesmerizing landscapes of Saudi Arabia, Trojena emerges as an enchanting winter sports resort. With world-class skiing facilities, it welcomes adventure enthusiasts to indulge in a snow-covered wonderland, a breathtaking testament to Saudi Arabia’s pursuit of diverse tourism offerings.
Delving into Ancient History
While giga-projects grab the headlines, Saudi Arabia cherishes its ancient history, preserving and showcasing the jewels of the past to visitors. AlUla proudly unveils the Nabataean tombs, a glimpse into a bygone era of civilization. The oasis towns of Khaybar and Tayma beckon travelers to traverse their storied streets, weaving tales of a time gone by.
Diriyah: A Living Testament to Heritage
Near the bustling Saudi capital, Riyadh, lies Diriyah, a pivotal giga-project that seeks to enchant 27 million visitors annually. This 14-square-kilometer site bears immense historical significance as the birthplace of the nation. It is the ancestral seat of the Al Saud dynasty and houses the UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif, the cradle of the First Saudi State, established in 1727.
Unfolding the Vision for Diriyah
Steering the development of Diriyah as a beacon of Vision 2030 is Jerry Inzerillo, the group CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority. With five decades of hospitality experience, Inzerillo and his team envision Diriyah as a cultural gem, offering unparalleled experiences to visitors while fostering economic growth for the Kingdom.
“We are committed to preserving and promoting the history and culture of the city, and we look forward to welcoming visitors from all over the world to bear witness to its beauty and be a part of the legacy it represents,” says Inzerillo.
A Multi-Billion Dollar Marvel
Diriyah’s transformation comes at a hefty price tag of $63.2 billion, making it one of the largest and most complex projects on the planet. However, the Kingdom is well aware that the returns on this investment will go beyond monetary gains. The goal is to forge a cultural hub that mesmerizes and captivates the hearts of tourists worldwide.
A Journey Through Time: Diriyah’s Attractions
The initial phases of the master plan have already unveiled captivating attractions to visitors. The At-Turaif World Heritage Site boasts new galleries and museums, narrating the compelling history of Diriyah. Here, visitors can wander among remnants of ancient city walls, explore royal palaces, and immerse themselves in the serenity of ancient mosques.
A Gastronomic Sojourn
At Bujairi Terrace, diners are treated to a culinary extravaganza featuring Saudi Arabia’s traditional Najdi mud-brick architectural style. Local concepts present the finest Saudi cuisine, while international restaurants such as Angelina, COVA, and Sarabeth’s add a global touch to the gastronomic experience.
A Vision that Transcends Time
However, Diriyah’s vision doesn’t end with its initial offerings. A dynamic and adaptive masterplan is in place to ensure that the project stays on course. The Kingdom is set to introduce new assets each year until 2030, giving rise to 38 hotels and resorts by renowned brands like Ritz-Carlton, Park Hyatt, and Raffles.
Embracing the Cultural Fabric
Diriyah is poised to be a treasure trove for culture aficionados. Alongside the six museums and 26 cultural attractions, more than 400 luxury and lifestyle outlets will adorn this enchanting destination. Additionally, over 100 souqs and bazaars will come alive, showcasing the essence of Saudi Arabia’s cultural tapestry.
Green Oasis: Parks and Nature
In its pursuit of creating an ecological haven, Diriyah will boast six sprawling parks sprawling across 2.6 square kilometers. Lush greenery, tens of thousands of trees, and serene pathways for walking, cycling, and horseback riding will offer a tranquil escape for visitors.
Events Galore: Entertainment at its Best
Diriyah is primed to become a hub of entertainment. Vibrant events, concerts, and festivities are a major focus of the destination. Already, the Diriyah Season in 2022 witnessed spectacular events, such as the Diriyah Formula E race, and electrifying concerts by acclaimed artists like John Legend, French Montana, and Martin Garrix.
A Night to Remember
As twilight descends, Diriyah comes alive with immersive light installations by both international and Saudi artists. Diriyah Nights unfolds, enchanting visitors with Arabic music concerts, pop-up restaurants, and shisha lounges, creating an unforgettable experience for locals and tourists alike.
A Tapestry of Adventure: Diriyah Urban Festival
The Diriyah Urban Festival further fuels the spirit of adventure, featuring parkour, skateboarding, breakdancing, and the thrilling 2023 BMX Freestyle World Cup. This kaleidoscope of activities ensures that Diriyah caters to all tastes and ages.
A City Transformed: Diriyah’s Impact on Riyadh
The monumental giga-project is not only revolutionizing Diriyah but also promises to transform Riyadh as a whole. The introduction of smart city strategies, pedestrianized areas, increased public transport options, and a new metro connection aims to breathe new life into Riyadh’s urban fabric. Amidst the hustle and bustle, Diriyah will be a serene oasis, offering respite and wonder to residents and visitors alike.
An Exquisite Educational Experience
For visitors keen on delving deep into the past, the heritage sites of At-Turaif come to life with the assistance of 30 enthusiastic Saudi guides. These passionate guides lead visitors through captivating galleries that depict Diriyah’s history. They delve into subjects like equestrianism, traditional architecture, currency, and trade, offering a truly immersive and educational encounter.
Princess Al-Jawhara Abdulmohsin Al-Saud: A Royal Guide to History
As if stepping from the pages of history itself, Princess Al-Jawhara Abdulmohsin Al-Saud, a member of the Al-Saud family, plays a pivotal role in showcasing At-Turaif’s legacy. Her family heritage adds a personal touch to her role as a member of the At-Turaif experience team. Passionate about preserving and sharing the cultural treasure of Diriyah, Princess Al-Jawhara offers a unique and humbling experience to visitors from around the world.
Diriyah’s Promise: Heritage and Futurism United
As Diriyah propels into the future, it remains deeply rooted in its heritage and culture. The giga-project seeks to offer not just a tourist destination but a window into Saudi Arabia’s soul. Inzerillo believes that Diriyah is not only a global attraction but also an opportunity for locals to connect with their rich history.
“For locals, it’s an opportunity to celebrate and reconnect with the rich history and culture they have inherited,” he says. “For visitors, it is a chance to immerse themselves in a unique and authentic cultural experience, to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif and to discover the traditional architecture and natural beauty of this city built from earth.”
A Triumph of Heritage and Vision
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is a grand testament to the nation’s resolve to shape its own destiny. As Diriyah stands as a shining beacon of this vision, it beckons the world with open arms. Its giga-projects, blending heritage and futurism, promise a tapestry of experiences that leave indelible imprints on the hearts of all who visit.
The Journey Continues…
As the sands of time shift, Saudi Arabia’s tourism odyssey continues, and Diriyah’s magnificence shines ever brighter. With every passing year, the vision unfolds, beckoning the world to witness the past and embrace the future.
Whether you are an intrepid traveler or an avid history enthusiast, Diriyah awaits – a world-class cultural destination where dreams become reality.