By Staff writer
It is hoped the destination will become home to a population of 100,000 and attract 25 million visitors annually
Work has started on the first phase of Diriyah Gate Development Authority’s (DGDA’s) $20 billion giga-project on the outskirts of Riyadh.
As part of Saudi’s Vision 2030, seven square kilometres of Diriyah, just 15 minutes north-west of Riyadh city centre, will be transformed into one of the kingdom’s most prominent tourism destinations, as well as a hub for culture and heritage, hospitality, retail and education.
Jerry Inzerillo, CEO, DGDA said: “We are overjoyed to take the first steps in our construction phase, moving from vision to reality. Diriyah Gate will become a global cultural and lifestyle hub; a place of great celebration and joy, and a powerhouse of Saudi culture and commerce.”
Diriyah Gate will include more than 20 hotels, a diverse collection of museums, a retail heart and over 100 restaurants. The project includes a series of outdoor plazas as well as a 3km escarpment walk offering views across the historic Wadi Hanifah.
It is hoped the destination will become home to a population of 100,000 and attract 25 million visitors annually.
One of the first areas to benefit from the transformation is the existing Bujairi district, which will be home to Riyadh’s new dining hub, offering views of At-Turaif; Diriyah Art Oasis – one of Saudi Arabia’s first arts centres dedicated to contemporary art; and a 142-key Samhan Heritage Hotel.
A key aspect of the development is the first stage of the renewal and restoration of two square kilometres of the historic Wadi Hanifah, forming part of the Diriyah Gate masterplan. It includes the restoration of the historic palm groves and farms, combined with new walking trails and picnic areas.
In addition to Bujairi and Wadi Hanifah, the initial activity on the ground also includes one of the world’s most complex below-ground infrastructure projects. Requiring the removal of approximately nine million cubic meters of soil - the equivalent of 3,600 50-metre Olympic swimming pools - the development will comprise one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated sub-surface infrastructures globally.
Excavating 15 meters below ground level, the project will result in 3km of tunnels and 10,500 car parking spaces, using 1.2 million cubic meters of concrete.
The first stages in the pipeline of development work will cover 1,320,000 square meters, approximately the size of 185 soccer pitches.
Jonathan Timms, chief design and development officer, DGDA, added: “Overall, it will be an enhanced, pedestrian friendly, walkable city, deeply rooted in the heritage and cultural equity of the kingdom.”