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Diriyah: The Most Recent "Giga Initiative" Seeking to Transform Saudi Arabia

Diriyah: The Most Recent “Giga Initiative” Seeking to Transform Saudi Arabia

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is planning to expand tourism. It includes the “Giga Project,” a key part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan to generate a new economic system and lure more tourists. Although it may have just begun, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is making a huge splash in the world of tourism. 

Before 2030, Saudi Arabia claims to draw 100 million tourists annually, which is a significant objective given that the nation only began accepting travelers with eVisas in 2019. 

To attract tourists, futuristic new destinations are popping up all over the kingdom. These include the Nabataen tombs in AIUIa and the oasis towns of Khaybar and Tayma, as well as NEOM, with its 170-kilometer-long car-free mirrored city. All these also include the line and winter sports resorts of Trojena. 

Another giga-project, located on the outskirts of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, hopes to draw millions of those tourists each year to a 14 square kilometer area home to historical and cultural landmarks. 

At-Turaif, the location of the first Saudi state, founded in 1727, is in Diriyah, which is referred to as the birthplace of the country and the AI Saud dynasty’s ancestral seat. At-Turaif is a UNESCO World Heritage location. 

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Diriyah is of great importance to contemporary Saudi Arabia in terms of history and culture. There is great pressure to do it right as it is a major giga-project in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan.

Saudi Arabia has planned to incorporate plenty of things while making Diriyah. It will be labeled with a multi-billion dollar price tag. Jerry Inzerillo, the group CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, is leading a team that aims to develop Diriyah as a flagship project of Vision 2030, providing “unparalleled cultural experiences for visitors and driving economic growth for Saudi Arabia. 

In one of the interviews, Inzerillo stated that they are dedicated to protecting and promoting the city’s history and culture and welcome tourists from around the world to experience its beauty and contribute to the heritage it symbolizes.

Building a destination is a costly undertaking. The Diriyah giga-project is worth $63.2 billion, and according to Inzerillo, it is “one of the most complex and largest projects in the world.” 

But what is there for the visitors to see once they visit Diriyah? 

The first stage of the master plan that debuted at the end of 2022 included At-Turaif, a World Heritage site with new galleries and museums that chronicle Diriyah’s history and the remains of the city walls, royal palaces, and mosques. 

Bujairi Terrace, located directly across the street, is a collection of dining establishments designed in the region’s traditional Najdi mud-brick architectural style. These establishments include regional concepts offering upscale Saudi cuisine and international eateries like Angelina, COVA, and Sarabeth’s.

But Diriyah’s goals go far beyond simply a couple of museums and restaurants. 

According to Inzerillo, a new asset will be launched every year until 2030, and they have a constantly evolving master plan to keep things on schedule. Their main objective is to build a top-notch cultural center in the nation’s capital. 

In addition to 38 new hotels and resorts, more than 400 luxury and lifestyle stores, more than 100 souks and bazaars, six museums, and 26 cultural sites will also open in Diriyah. These hotels and resorts include residences by renowned hotel chains like Ritz-Carlton, Park Hyatt, and Raffles. 

Six parks will cover an area of 2.6 square kilometers, each with thousands of trees and paths for walking, bicycling, and riding horses. The location will also place a lot of emphasis on events, and it already has a busy schedule planned.

As part of Diriyah Nights, immersive light installations created by Saudi and foreign artists such as Masamichi Shimada and Balqis AlRashed transform Diriyah’s palm groves. Concerts featuring Arabic music, pop-up restaurants, and shisha lounges are luring city residents to the event.

The overall image of Riyadh is about to change, all thanks to Diriyah. In addition to giving visitors more reasons to come, the new infrastructure is being implemented, including smart city initiatives, pedestrianized areas, increased use of public transportation, and a new metro link. It all will feel like a breath of fresh air in contrast to Riyadh’s infamously congested traffic. 

The neighborhoods of Diriyah are anticipated to house about 100,000 people. A group of 30 enthusiastic young Saudi guides brings the heritage sites of At-Turaif to life for the visitors as they take them through galleries that trace Diriyah’s history while also exploring topics like equestrian culture, traditional architecture, currency, and trade. 

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In some cases, visitors may even encounter royalty while visiting the location. Princess Al-Jawhara Abdulmohsin Al-Saud, 30 years old, is one of the tour guides. She is an Al-Saud ancestor, and this is her ancestral homeland. 

The princess told CNN that a trip to At-Turaif with her family inspired her to join the nation’s booming tourism industry. She serves as a tour guide for the At-Turaif experience team, leading guests through exhibits on the early imams that significantly impacted the development of contemporary Saudi Arabia.

The role is even more significant to her because of her family’s history. She stated that being a member of the House of Saud, showing tourists around Diriyah, is a deeply fulfilling and humbling experience. I am privileged to bring their stories to life for everyone to learn and benefit from.

It’s hoped that Diriyah will draw tourists as intrigued by the kingdom’s rich cultural history as by its ambitious, cutting-edge construction projects. Inzerillo is confident about it because he thinks Diriyah provides as much for native Saudis as it does for tourists, offering everyone a chance to learn about the country’s traditions, history, and culture.

It could be good news for job hunters as these giga-projects will source multiple job openings at Saudi Arabia, resulting in demand for skilled workers. It will help if you stay updated with the latest news and trends in applying for such jobs. 

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About the author

Headquartered in Dubai, with offices in 13 countries spread across UK, Europe, Middle East and South Asia, Dynamic Staffing Services is an industry leader within its niche space of international recruitment. Over the last 45 years, DSS has successfully places over 450 000 candidates in the engineering, healthcare, hospitality, IT and manufacturing sector. Please visit us as www.dss-hr.com to learn more about us. We pride ourselves in being an ethical recruitment services provider following the most stringiest regulations towards code of conduct. We recruit talent from Eastern Europe, India, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Africa, Egypt, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Malaysia among other nationalities and place them into 24+ countries. Each year we give jobs to about 12 000 candidates.

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