DGDA begins works on heritage focused $20bn Diriyah Gate project

Project is said to be inspired by the Unesco World Heritage site At-Turaif, which is said to be the birthplace of Saudi Arabia

The Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) has broken ground on the first phase of the $20bn Diriyah Gate gigaproject. As part of phase one, the existing Bujairi district will receive a major upgrade in terms of beautification and infrastructure, which will enhance quality of life of the community.

According to a statement, Diriyah Gate is a mixed-use cultural and heritage development and will showcase 300-plus years of authentic history by delivering heritage experiences, empowering education, world-class entertainment, outstanding lifestyle and vibrant shopping and dining.

The DGDA states that the seven sqkm old city located north-west of Riyadh city centre, will be transformed into one of the world’s foremost lifestyle destinations for culture and heritage, hospitality, retail and education.

On completion, Bujairi will host Riyadh’s new premium dining hub, which will enjoy uninterrupted views of At-Turaif; Diriyah Art Oasis – one of Saudi Arabia’s first arts centers dedicated to contemporary art and a 142-key Samhan Heritage Hotel.

A key aspect of the development is said to be the first stage of the renewal and restoration of two sqkm of the historic Wadi Hanifah, which is part of the Diriyah Gate masterplan. Enhancements include the restoration of palm groves and farms, combined with new walking trails and picnic areas for the community to gather and enjoy.

“There is only one Diriyah. Our breaking ground on the project is a key milestone and step towards Vision 2030. 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,” remarked DGDA CEO Jerry Inzerillo.

He added, “Our masterplan’s point of difference is an incredibly powerful combination of being home to the Jewel of the Kingdom At-Turaif, coupled with being steeped in over 300 years of Royal history, in addition to developing world class, contemporary assets – all reflecting the great future vision of our beloved leaders.”

Initial activity is also said to include the kickoff of what is billed as one of the world’s most complex below-ground infrastructure projects. Requiring the movement of nine million cu/m of soil, equivalent to 3,600 50-meter Olympic swimming pools, the development will comprise one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated sub-surface infrastructures globally, the statement said.

Once complete, the Diriyah Gate gigaproject will feature several cultural, entertainment, retail, hospitality, educational, office and residential areas, including more than 20 hotels, a diverse collection of museums, a bustling retail heart and over 100 places to dine. The project includes a series of outdoor plazas as well as a 3km escarpment walk offering views across Wadi Hanifah. The project is expected to be home to a population of 100,000 and is set to attract 25m visitors annually.

Chief design and development officer Jonathan Timms stated, “On completion, the development will embody a new way of living for Diriyah’s residents and the greater Riyadh community – comprising a sophisticated intersection of authentic Najdi-style living coupled with world class amenities, all within the convenience of a mixed-use urban community. Overall, it will be an enhanced, pedestrian friendly, walkable city, deeply rooted in the heritage and cultural equity of the Kingdom.”

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