Unveiled last year at the globally renowned MAPIC trade event, Diriyah Square is the 180,000m2 commercial heart of the Diriyah giga-project in Riyadh, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s foremost heritage and culture mixed-use development. Here, RLI speaks with Mohamed Saad, Vice President at Diriyah Development Company, the development arm of Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) to catch up on the latest developments on-site and what visitors can expect when this world-class destination opens its doors.
Situated just 15 minutes from Riyadh’s city centre and with direct access via the Western Ring Road and Wadi Hanifah, the 14km2 Diriyah masterplan will present a completely new lifestyle experience for residents of and visitors to Saudi Arabia, immersing them in the history and culture of the Kingdom while offering a unique retail offering that combines iconic and contemporary global brands with traditional artisan shops and souks inspired by the timeless Najdi architecture of At-Turaif.
Alongside retail, the commercial heart of the Diriyah masterplan will also feature world-class hospitality, branded residential, cultural attractions and workplaces. With Quality of Life as one of its main experience pillars, Diriyah Square will be focused on wellness with its wide range of offerings in health, self-care, fitness and wellbeing. As the cultural and historic capital of the nation, the project will be designed and built with Saudi traditions and heritage in mind which will make it a must-see destination.
Developed by Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), the game-changing Diriyah project is a canvas for culture, transforming the historic area of Diriyah, the ancestral home of the Al Saud royal family and the birthplace of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is all part of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 blueprint to help showcase over 300 years of Saudi Arabian history through an engaging and inspiring collection of educational, cultural, hospitality, retail and dining-led experiences for residents, tourists and visitors alike. Directly adjacent to the historic At-Turaif UNESCO World Heritage Site, it provides an unimpeachable setting rooted in history.
“Diriyah Square will be a luxurious lifestyle destination – a place to shop, dine, live, work and play – and the most exciting project underway in the world today. Steeped in culture, Diriyah Square will be a fully walkable district with a unique streetscape of intimate laneways, vast open-air courtyards and souks, breaking the status quo by setting itself apart from traditional shopping centre competitors,” explains Mohamed Saad, Vice President of Diriyah Development Company, the development arm of DGDA.
“The scheme will be home to over 400 of the world’s finest luxury and lifestyle brands, complemented by 100 traditional Saudi concepts. This extraordinary destination is a true premium-luxury offering with brands that attract the discerning shopper, thoughtfully divided into the main neighbourhoods of luxury, fashion, urban, F&B, leisure and culture,” Saad continues.
The retail offering at Diriyah Square is complemented by six luxury hotels, three branded residences, twenty-five open-air event spaces, five Grade-A premium office buildings, and a completely car-free district. To support this pedestrian-friendly environment, the project will offer a state-of-the-art unique super basement carpark with more than 10,500 below-ground retail-dedicated parking spaces across three sub-levels.
The super-basement will host a network of underground roads and tunnels situated below Diriyah Square with multiple access points taking you directly above ground to a series of climate-cooled welcome halls. A key feature of the parking facility allows for a continuous flow of traffic and integration with the existing road network in Riyadh.
The site provides retailers with a unique opportunity to showcase their brand and their brand experience in its truest representation for the first time in the Kingdom. The cultural significance of Diriyah Square along with the unique location provides a compelling backdrop and will allow brands to express themselves as part of an authentic and relevant lifestyle destination.
“Diriyah Square is set to become a world-class destination, synonymous with luxury, opportunity, equality, climate change resilience, and promoting cultural heritage, whilst ensuring a thriving, vibrant and healthy future. The long-term goals and expectations of Diriyah Square aim to celebrate local communities and its cultural roots, whilst creating a solid foundation on which to build the best possible legacy for the Kingdom,” Saad comments “DGDA has recently announced that the first phase masterplan of the Diriyah project has been awarded platinum-level LEED precertification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), the globally recognised, prestigious symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership. This forms a part of Diriyah’s wider Sustainability Strategy, incorporating human-centric, economic and societal sustainability alongside a range of environmental considerations,” he continues.
Complimenting Diriyah Square, the food and beverage offering at the soon to be opened Bujairi Terrace has been meticulously curated to cater for both local and international markets. With breath taking views over At-Turaif and Wadi Hanifah, Bujairi Terrace will showcase world-class dining experiences featuring internationally renowned restaurants and the finest in regional and contemporary local cuisine. The fully pedestrianized district will be home to over 20 restaurants, including four Michelin-starred restaurants – Chez Bruno, Tatel, Hakkasan and Long Chim – as well as a meticulous offering of local Saudi culinary experiences. Saudi brands ground the offering in the local culture. These will include Sum + Things, and TAKYA, the first Saudi-owned fine dining restaurant serving Saudi cuisine and capturing the heart of Saudi cooking with its contemporary dishes. Bujairi Terrace will additionally welcome MAIZ, which will offer authentic Saudi food from each of the Kingdom’s 13 provinces.
With King Khalid International Airport just 25 minutes away, four new Metro stations connecting Diriyah to Riyadh and with the blending of its traditional Najdi architecture with state-of-the-art technology, Diriyah Square presents a beautifully designed and connected environment in Riyadh’s new premier destination.