Historical Ad Diriyah: The Jewel of Riyadh
Ad Diriyah is to Riyadh what Colosseum is to Rome or Acropolis to Athens. This historic site is undergoing a $17 billion renovation project that will comprise not only a renovated historic village, but also luxury hotels, restaurants, a 15,000-seat arena, and a Formula-E racetrack.
Diriyah was once home to the Saud family, imams and their families. It was also the seat of government with a strategic location overlooking the banks of Wadi Hanifah. Diriyah is considered the birthplace of the first Saudi state, becoming its capital in 1745 AD. The city flourished until 1818 when the city surrendered to the Ottomans.
Diriyah's oldest part, At Turaif, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This typical Najd village features adobe (mud-brick) houses and palaces, courtyards, alleyways, and towers built in the 1700s. It was recently restored to showcase the kingdom’s social and cultural past, taking visitors on a comprehensive journey through Saudi history. The historical area is not fully open to visitors yet but will hopefully be opened to the general public later in 2020. Inshallah. At the moment, it is possible to visit the site only with a special permit from the authorities.
This Diriyah's open-air museum is impressive not only for the expertly renovated mud-brick houses and museums, but also some dramatic multimedia enhancements. Illuminated imagery of people and camel caravans moving across the mud-brick architecture and voices reciting poetry and telling stories help visitors understand and engage with the site. The incredible digital display, that is projected onto the old walls, tells the kingdom's journey from the past to the present and makes the village become alive.