The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today celebrates the World Heritage Day that is annually marked on April 18. Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) is racing against time to finish various projects aimed at developing and rehabilitating heritage sites in Diriyah, whose inauguration ceremonies were attended by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in November, 2019 in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Chairman of the Board of DGDA.
Diriyah Gate Development Project is considered the biggest heritage and cultural project in the world that seeks to develop the historical area with its international heritage sites and returning them to their prestigious past in the 18th century to become a local, regional and international tourist destination thanks to its geography and history. It is one of the schemes that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud places much attention to in light of the continuous concern of national heritage and keenness to develop heritage and historical sites in various regions of the Kingdom, mainly “the Jewel of the Kingdom” for its being the land of kings and heroes and the capital of the first Saudi state.
The historical Diriyah has received much attention from the leadership, which can be seen in the development plans and programs for reconstruction, where the historical Diriyah development project, which falls under the goals and aspirations of the Kingdom's Vision 2030, seeks to transform this unique historical site into one of the most important tourist, cultural, educational and entertainment destinations in the world, especially that the area is known for its breathtaking nature and represents a world class model in the urban lifestyle, as well as a blueprint that can guarantee balance in living side by side with the nature and for being one of the most important human communities in the world.
One of the most important heritage sites in the historical Diriyah is the historical Al-Turaif District, which is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and Salwa Palace, in addition to other historical monuments, palaces and mosques. The first phase of implementing the project started last year through conducting development works at Al-Bujairi area according to up-to-date civil and environmental standards followed in rehabilitating historical and heritage sites in the world, and establishing an exceptional lifestyle for tourists, guests and visitors from inside and outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The area is expected to attract more than 25 million visitors and tourists every year from inside and outside the Kingdom in light of planning for establishing entertainment projects and various events, in addition to museums, art and cultural facilities and attracting art and cultural events from various parts of the world, which will be supported by a distinguished architectural character, especially the Najd style that is well-known in Diriyah, which dates back to more than 300 years.
The under-construction projects will transform the historical Diriyah into an area for exploration, shopping and tasting the top international food and a place of living a prestigious life, especially that works are underway to establish a diversified package of tourist and entertainment destinations in addition to distinguished heritage hotels, museums, world shopping stores and international restaurants with flavors that belong to peoples of various countries and cultures.
The project also includes several outdoor courtyards with distinguished designs and gorgeous views and a three-kilometer walkway that overlooks the historical Wadi Hanifa, where the area is expected to become the biggest and most important open heritage and cultural area with natural and historical views.
It is worth mentioning that the World Heritage Day is annually celebrated on April 18 under the auspices of UNESCO and the World Heritage Center with the aim of raising awareness of human heritage as per the convention that was endorsed in Paris in 1972, which includes two kinds of heritage classifications: Cultural, which houses antiquities, architectural works, building complexes and urban sites with exceptional values; and natural that houses nature sites with high international value. DGDA has cooperated with the Saudi office of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) in launching a competition on the occasion of the World Heritage Day on March 21, during which participants displayed short video clips that shed light on the Saudi heritage with the aim of acquainting local and international audience with the Saudi heritage, providing that these items are on the architectural field and cover historical areas and villages and heritage and architectural sites that has authenticity, integration, exceptional value, nature heritage and include elements like mountains, valleys, desserts, plains, hills, islands, sea beaches and nature gardens with distinguished views and geological components. The distinguished participations will be honored during a ceremony that celebrates the World Heritage Day to be held today in the historical Al-Turaif District that is on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.