From a Barbie exhibition to Lionel Messi memorabilia, a guide to Boulevard City in Riyadh

The family-friendly site is part of Riyadh Season, the city-wide festival in the Saudi capital

Boulevard City in Riyadh returns with another bumper programme as part of the 2023 Riyadh Season. Photo: Riyadh Season
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Since launching in 2019, Boulevard City in Riyadh has become a magnet for locals, tourists and celebrities.

The 81-hectare mega-site near the centre of the Saudi Arabian capital, has become a permanent leisure and entertainment location with family-friendly exhibitions, restaurants and fountain shows as well as being a venue for high-profile events.

US rapper Post Malone performs there on November 17, in addition to Lebanese pop-stars Elissa and Wael Kfoury on December 18.

This is followed by the staging of the upcoming Joy Awards, the regional's equivalent of the Grammy, Oscars and Emmy awards, in which Arab actors and musicians are acknowledged for their work over the previous year. Dates for the ceremony will be announced soon.

With a lavish Disney exhibition and museum dedicated to footballer Cristiano Ronaldo to be opened soon, Boulevard City has already established itself as one of the region's premiere entertainment destinations.

While Boulevard City can be accessed daily, its Riyadh Season programme events run throughout the winter.

Here are four things you need to know and experience when visiting the site.

1. Visit the new Barbie exhibition

In another attempt to capture the Hollywood zeitgeist, Boulevard City hosts a temporary exhibition dedicated to Barbie.

Following previous season’s exhibitions on Netflix dramas Squid Games and Peaky Blinders, World of Barbie channels the bright visuals of the blockbuster film and displays the history of one of the world’s favourite dolls.

Located in the film -themed Boulevard Studios section of Boulevard World, entry is 45 Saudi riyals ($12) purchased online or through card payment at the entry of the exhibition.

Step inside and it’s a cavernous space drenched in bright light and pink walls.

In the middle is a children’s play area including a Barbie van where kids can have their photos taken behind the pink steering wheel.

On the perimeter are various sections and exhibits. One resembles a mini-dance floor that produces different colours and shapes with each step.

At the Music Production Studio, children can get into a trio of sound booths to sing karaoke and jam on mini pianos and guitars, while the Barbie TV Centre is a mock studio with presenter and guest chairs.

While many of these features are designed for colourful family photos, Barbie World also has something to offer culture lovers.

The Museum of Barbie is an interesting mini exhibition illustrating the evolution of the brand.

Spotted is a 1962 home set conservative in design, including a small wooden dresser and bookshelf.

2. Check out rare football memorabilia at the Legends Museum

Perhaps in an effort to prove Boulevard City has something for everyone, a few minutes' stroll away from Barbie World is the Legends Museum.

Officially launched last month by retired Real Madrid stars Luis Figo and Ronaldo Nazario, the football museum is an official collaboration with Spain's premier football league, La Liga.

There is a lot to geek out on here, from the historic World Cup jerseys worn by late football greats Pele and Maradona to the shirt Argentina's Lionel Messi wore in the memorable 2022 Qatar World Cup match against Saudi Arabia.

As well as film footage of classic goals from the Spanish league, you can also see some of the competition trophies encased in glass.

Entry is 50 Saudi riyals and can be bought online or by card payment onsite.

3. Play mini golf and arcades under neon lights

Teenagers also get some love with a dedicated space.

The Hive Art and Music is fashioned as an underground shelter with faux graffiti to indulge in a spot of mini-golf in a neon-lit pitch.

There are plenty of arcades and lit foosball tables and dart balls for unlimited play as part of the 15 Saudi riyal entry free.

Local DJs regularly perform atop an elevated deck featuring impressive street art.

4. From falafels to fine dining

From lavish set menus to take-away options, plenty of food choices are available on site.

At the centre of Boulevard City is an outdoor circular area serving everything from an all-day Arabic breakfast menu of foul, falafel and hummus to everyday favourites such as shawarmas, burgers and loaded fries.

For a more refined sit-down experience, venture to the promenade – home to a fountain show in front of a floating digital screen – where the ritzy restaurants such as the Levant-inspired Al Nakheel and European contemporary fare of Petit Cafe are located.

Those looking for extra flair should check out Phantom House, a dinner-show restaurant featuring a live instrumental band and DJ.

Boulevard World is open daily from 4pm to 2am. Entry is free and ticketed features can be booked on

Updated: November 17, 2023, 6:02 PM