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FEBRUARY 2024 – Diriyah Company

Redefining the Landscape

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Emboldened by Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, Diriyah Company has been tasked with bringing to fruition an ambitious, dynamic project to turn Diriyah into a world-renowned centre for culture, heritage and tourism. Here, RLI speaks with Mohamed Saad, DGCL DevCo President as he explains to us about the different facets of this giga-project and its importance to the Kingdom.

A historical treasure, rich in culture, beauty, nature and art, Diriyah is a global destination in the making for historical & cultural enthusiasts. The city of Diriyah is the ancestral home of the House of Al Saud and the founding place of the First Saudi State in 1727. At-Turaif, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated at the heart of Diriyah.

One key element of this upcoming scheme is Diriyah Square, which is a pivotal project in the development of Riyadh’s western edge. It represents a significant step in revitalising the area and enhancing the lifestyle of residents and visitors. Much more than a commercial hub, it is an embodiment of cultural and historical significance, designed to showcase Saudi culture and history to the world.

With the inclusion of more than 400 retail outlets, Diriyah Square will not only boost the local economy, but also integrate these commercial spaces within the area’s rich heritage. This integration will allow visitors and residents to engage in a unique shopping experience that is deeply rooted in the cultural context of Diriyah.

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“Diriyah Square is set to become a vibrant hub for cultural tourism. The project’s fundamental role is to promote cultural tourism, offering a window into Saudi culture and history,” explains Mohamed Saad, DGCL DevCo President. “This emphasis on cultural significance goes beyond commercial interests, aiming to enrich the lifestyle of residents and attract visitors from around the globe. The blend of retail, cultural and historical elements create a dynamic environment that celebrates the Saudi heritage and invites global engagement.”
The finest global and local brands offering world-class experiences will call Diriyah home and it will become a luxury lifestyle destination where iconic brands will be complimented with an authentic, walkable and human-centric environment.

Alongside the retail element, F&B is another major factor across the development. Bujairi Terrace became the first element of any giga-project to open its doors in December 2022 and welcomed over one million visitors in the first six months of operations. Spanning 15,000sq m and featuring over 20 internationally acclaimed restaurants and cafes, including four Michelin-starred brands – Chez Bruno, Tatel, Hakkasan and Long Chim, as well as a carefully curated mixed offering of local Saudi food and international cuisine, Bujairi Terrace is a premium dining experience with exceptional views over the Kingdom’s most important cultural icon At-Turaif.

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“Introducing a major milestone for the project, we have proudly presented the Kingdom’s first Ritz-Carlton Residences, located in the heart of Diriyah. This extraordinary living experience allows residents to immerse themselves in a thriving cultural scene and embrace a vibrant lifestyle,” Saad highlights.

He continues by saying that, inspired by the rich Najdi heritage, The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Diriyah will feature exquisitely designed villas that capture the essence of elegance and tradition. The villas seamlessly blend the ancient Najdi heritage with modern amenities and entertainment, providing a healthy lifestyle that balances well-being with a home environment of tranquillity and privacy in one of the most important cultural and heritage destinations in the world.

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Positioning itself as a significant global player in tourism, Diriyah Company has plans to introduce a diverse range of more than 40 international hotel brands. During the recent Bashayer event, six of these hotels officially broke ground, showcasing the progress in Diriyah’s hospitality sector. These luxury offerings exemplify the potential for creating distinctive visitor experiences at Diriyah.

Discussing the importance of connectivity and accessibility of the scheme, Saad says that the manner in which traditional settlements were built around the needs of their population, Diriyah will be highly walkable, typified by narrow streets and low-rise buildings. Pedestrians will be prioritised over cars throughout the public realm and open spaces and surface level parking provisions will be limited, with most parking regulated to special structures and underground bays.

“Walkability and connectivity for residents, workers and visitors alike have been key considerations within the city design with more everyday requirements within a short walk along pedestrian-friendly streets,” Saad comments.

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A key component of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the Diriyah project is set to redefine the Kingdom’s cultural and heritage landscape through a series of vibrant and immersive experiences. Central to the Kingdom’s transformation agenda, this flagship initiative is focused on transforming the historic Diriyah area into a global cultural and lifestyle hub. Their approach involves a balanced strategy of development, redevelopment and the introduction of new experiences, all the while preserving the rich history and heritage of the city. These efforts are aimed at creating spaces and attractions that will appeal to both local and international visitors.

“Another factor at the heart of Diriyah’s development is sustainability, with the Diriyah Company investing in diverse sectors to achieve comprehensive sustainability. This includes preserving cultural and historical elements by incorporating the traditional Nadji architectural style into sustainable infrastructure,” says Saad.

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The project is also committed to decarbonisation, evidenced by participation in programs like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), where we have achieved a Platinum pre-certification, which is a first for a project in the Middle East.

In addition, the company’s involvement in Saudi Arabia’s own sustainability certification program, MOSTADAM, aligns with the Vision 2030 goal of improving the quality of life for all Saudis. Diriyah’s participation not only underscores its commitment to national-scale green investments but also plays a crucial role in advancing Saudi Arabia’s sustainability goals and supporting the country’s transition to a more sustainable and eco-friendly future.

“All of these efforts collectively illustrate the Diriyah project’s holistic approach to sustainability, cultural preservation and modern development, harmonising with the broader objectives of Vision 2030,” Saad concludes.