Saudi Arabia shows 'impressive' cultural development project at Diriyah

The kingdom has put heritage at the heart of its economic reform programme

Diriyah has been announced Capital of Arab Culture for 2030. SPA
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The French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia was shown a panoramic scale model of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority project on Sunday.

Ludovic Pouille said the megaproject was “impressive” and that France was “proud to share its expertise in the promotion of heritage”.

The development is about 20 kilometres from Riyadh and will cover about 11 square kilometres.

It includes the At-Turaif District Unesco World Heritage Site, a 15th-century trading hub of mud brick structures which became the seat of power for the House of Saud in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Diriyah Gate Development Authority aims to preserve this heritage while building a modern tourist destination complete with luxury accommodation, museums, galleries and shops, reflecting “the rich history and culture of Diriyah and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” it said.

Unesco says At-Turaif “bears witness to the Najdi architectural style, which is specific to the centre of the Arabian peninsula”.

The Diriyah development project aims to create an international centre of cultural tourism with new buildings constructed in the Najdi style.

Saudi Arabia’s government hopes the centre will become “a place that connects emotionally with visitors and residents, promotes, and celebrates the destination’s rich heritage and reveals the origins of modern Saudi Arabia and the spiritual values in which it is rooted”.

The kingdom is implementing a multi-sector economic programme called Vision 2030. It combines social reforms such as expanding employment opportunities for women with an economic diversification strategy that has tourism and culture at its heart.

Updated: February 28, 2022, 7:58 AM