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Diriyah Gate breaks ground on $20bn Saudi heritage project

RIYADH, July 1, 2020

Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) has broken ground on the first phase of the mega SR75 billion ($20 billion) Diriyah Gate, one of its most ambitious developments, starting with Bujairi District.
 
Inspired by At Turaif, the Unesco World Heritage site that is the birthplace of Saudi Arabia, the mixed-use cultural and heritage development will showcase 300-plus years of authentic history by delivering heritage experiences, empowering education, world-class entertainment, outstanding lifestyle and vibrant shopping and dining.
 
According to DGDA, the 7-sq-km old city, located just 15 minutes north-west of Riyadh city centre, will be transformed into one of the world’s foremost lifestyle destinations for culture and heritage, hospitality, retail and education. 
 
One of the first areas to benefit from the transformation is the existing Bujairi district. In the coming year, Bujairi will be the first of several areas of Diriyah to experience a major upgrade that will significantly beautify the area, improve infrastucture and enhance the quality of life for the community. 
 
The new streetscape will honour the history of Diriyah with major beautification projects including spectacular landscaping as well as setting up of bike tracks, horse bridle paths and natural shading for pedestrian walkways. 
 
On completion, Bujairi will be home to Riyadh’s new premium dining hub, enjoying uninterrupted views of At Turaif; Diriyah Art Oasis – one of Saudi Arabia’s first arts centers dedicated to contemporary art; and a 142-key Samhan Heritage Hotel.
 
A key aspect of the development is the first stage of the renewal and restoration of 2 sq km of the historic Wadi Hanifah, forming part of the Diriyah Gate masterplan. 
 
These enhancements include the restoration of the historic palm groves and farms, combined with new walking trails and picnic areas for the community to gather and enjoy.
 
According to DGDA, the destination will attract local and international visitors alike through its historically sensitive reimagining of the area and world-class entertainment and events. 
 
In addition to Bujairi and Wadi Hanifah, the initial activity on the ground also includes the commencement of one of the world’s most complex below-ground infrastructure projects. 
 
Requiring an immense movement of 9 million cu m of soil, equivalent to 3,600 50-meter Olympic swimming pools, the development will comprise one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated sub-surface infrastructures globally. 
 
Excavating 15 m below ground level, the project will result in 3 km of tunnels and 10,500 car parking spaces, using 1.2 million cu m of concrete. The first stages in the pipeline of development work will cover 1,320,000 sq m, approximately the size of 185 soccer pitches. 
 
In line with design, development and preservation standards, DGDA will create an environment that enhances Diriyah’s national and international relevance, including the preservation of the At-Turaif Unesco World Heritage Site, which sits at the heart of the development. 
 
The Diriyah Gate GIGA project on completion will feature an array of world-class cultural, entertainment, retail, hospitality, educational, office and residential areas, including more than 20 hotels, a diverse collection of museums, a bustling retail heart and over 100 places to dine. 
 
The project includes a series of outdoor plazas as well as a 3km escarpment walk offering views across the historic Wadi Hanifah. 
 
The mega project will home to a population of 100,000 and is set to attract 25 million visitors annually - a place to gather, explore, shop, dine, live and work, said a top DGDA official.
 
"There is only one Diriyah. Our breaking ground on the project is a key milestone and step towards Vision 2030. We are overjoyed to take the first steps in our construction phase, moving from vision to reality," remarked its CEO Jerry Inzerillo. 
 
"Diriyah Gate will become a global cultural and lifestyle hub; a place of great celebration and joy, and a powerhouse of Saudi culture and commerce," he stated. 
 
“Our masterplan’s point of difference is an incredibly powerful combination of being home to the Jewel of the Kingdom At-Turaif, coupled with being steeped in over 300 years of Royal history, in addition to developing world class, contemporary assets – all reflecting the great future vision of our beloved leaders" he noted. 
 
Chief Design and Development Officer Jonathan Timms said: "On completion, the development will embody a new way of living for Diriyah’s residents and the greater Riyadh community – comprising a sophisticated intersection of authentic Najdi-style living coupled with world class amenities, all within the convenience of a mixed-use urban community."
 
"Overall, it will be an enhanced, pedestrian friendly, walkable city, deeply rooted in the heritage and cultural equity of the Kingdom," he added.-TradeArabia News Service



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