Following the announcement of their first-ever biennale earlier in June, Saudi Arabia has now begun work in the homeland of its forefathers, and consequently the land after-which the biennale is named, Ad-Diriyah. Known as Diriyah Gate, the project will transform the 1700-acre land that currently makes up the Old Town into a hub of culture, lifestyle, learning and hospitality. In creating a mixed-use development showcasing over 300 years of authentic history, Diriyah Gate will not only be a place of historical significance for Saudis but a place of cultural intrigue for the rest of the world.
Currently in its first phase of construction, developers are looking at the restoration of natural gems that once made up the center of civilization in Ad-Diriyah. Starting with the revival of Wadi Hanifa, a valley that runs through the town, the project will go on to replant in excess of 20,000 historic palms this year. In a bid to create a free public space that is reminiscent of Central Park in New York and Hyde Park in London, the restoration will make way for a space that is both usable and authentic.
Speaking to Arab News, Danielle Ainslie, Chief Marketing Officer at the Diriyah Gate Development Authority says that the restoration of Wadi Hanifa would create “one of the Kingdom’s largest and most beautiful parks.” With a focus on heritage, lifestyle and ecotourism, the space would lend itself to a multitude of purposes, all while maintaining a true and authentic sense of heritage and history. “When I close my eyes and I think of Diriyah, I think of palm trees. So, restoring the wadi to this beautiful parkland is going to be really important,” said Ainslie.
While restoring the land is one of the project’s primary objectives, Diriyah Gate will also be a world-class destination for food, dining and entertainment. “Diriyah already is an amazing gathering place and what we’re building is one of the world’s greatest gathering places,” Ainslie says. “Obviously, a key part of that is its dining and food; it is a real reason why people come to visit.” Boasting a suite of culinary experiences, from luxury to local, Diriyah Gate aims to combine quality dining experiences with authentically crafted venues in a bid to maintain the mysticism, heritage, and culture of the wonder that is Ad-Diriyah.
Speaking to the issue of Covid-19-related implications, Ainslie notes that among the economies that are still thriving, Saudi Arabia is one of them. As far as making progress on Project Diriyah Gate, “it is business as usual and the focus is on Vision 2030 and realizing Vision 2030,” she says. Deemed the bold, yet achievable blueprint for an ambitious nation, Vision 2030 is centered around creating a vibrant society in which all citizens can fulfill their dreams, hopes, and ambitions to succeed in a thriving, culturally, and artistically-robust society.