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Saudi Founding Day: 5 Interesting Things to Know About Diriyah, the First Saudi State

Photo: Courtesy of Saudi Tourism Authority

Titled the ‘Jewel of Saudi Arabia‘, Diriyah is the birthplace of the Kingdom’s rich culture and heritage. The first Saudi state, Diriyah is full of history and hidden gems, and is home to At-Turaif, the first capital of Saudis. As the country seeks to restore its valuable state, they have also stimulated awareness of its establishment through the announcement of Founding Day, celebrated annually starting last year on February 22.

On this occasion, Vogue Arabia rounds up five interesting facts worth knowing about Diriyah.

Diriyah is the birthplace of the first Saudi state

Located in the middle of the Arabian Peninsula in the Al-Arid region, Diriyah was founded by the Al-Saud dynasty as the very first Saudi state in 1744. As this state was established, so did the slow beginnings of the Kingdom.

Diriyah fell in late 1818 during the Wahhabi war

In a laborious attempt to maintain stability and establish pillars within the region, the rulers of the dynasty were threatened by opposing forces. This turbulence came at the sickening price of the assasination of Imam Abdul Aziz Bin Muhammad Bin Saud. The Ottoman Empire and the Saudi state fought a series of wars with one of them being the Wahhabi War which also resulted in the downfall of Diriyah in 1818.

It is home to the Al-Bujairi district

Once the home of religious scholar Mohammad Bin Abdul Wahab, Diriyah is packed with huts that are now transformed into cultural heritage sites open to visitors. Among these sites is the Diriyah Museum, which was a former palace that presently showcases the history of Diriyah as well as the restored Al-Zawihra mosque.

Photo: Courtesy of Saudi Tourism Authority

At-Turaif district was the primary habitation of the Al-Saud family

Home to the royal family from 1744 to 1818, At-Turaif lies in Diriyah and northwest of Riyadh, the Kingdom’s present standing capital. Along with the fall of Diriyah in 1818 was the district of At-Turaif, which now remains a site of history. The ruins of the district were named a Unesco Heritage Site in 2010, highlighting the historical legacy it brought upon Saudi Arabia. There are also plans in place to restore the district.

It is situated among the river and valley line of Wadi Hanifah

Cutting through Riyadh and multiple villages inclusive to Diriyah, the enriched Wadi Hanifah stretches for 120km. Providing plentiful water for agriculture and being located among one of the more important trade routes known as the Old Hajj Road, the Wadi marks its significance in history and modern-day Saudi. The famous river also surrounds the neighborhood of Ghasiba in Diriyah, the location of the palace that Imam Saud bin Abdulaziz confided in.

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