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Diriyah at Harrods

The city of the future comes to London

Until the 26th of July, a delegation from the Diriyah Company is at Harrods London showing models of the 14km2 development considered by most as a pioneering example of future urban planning. The intention is to transform this ancestral site 15 minutes from downtown Riyadh into a global hub for business, culture, heritage, and tourism; with the environment and the wellbeing of its inhabitants at the forefront of its priorities.

Diriyah is the birthplace of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the ancestral home to the Al Saud family, who founded the First Saudi State here in 1727. At its centre, we find the UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif, an urban settlement built around an oasis, back in the 15th century. It was built in the Nadji architectural style, typical of the centre of the Arabian Peninsula.

The traditional Nadji style is characterised by the use of adobe and Athel wood, as well as by its geometric decorations.

The same style has been followed in the building of modern Diriyah, which bears witness to the traditional method that was so well adapted to the local environment, based on using mostly adobe and geometrical decorations. As Group CEO Jerry Inzerillo told me in an interview a few months ago, “By using local materials like mud, stone, and Athel wood, inspired by the techniques used in At-Turaif, we ensure the project not only respects but also reflects the area’s rich heritage and environmental integrity.”

From the left: lounge of a Ritz-Carlton villa and pool area of a Baccarat villa.

By the time this USD 63.2 billion project is completed, it will have the capacity to host 100,000 people and attract more than 50 million visitors a year. Completely pedestrian (massive underground parking across the city), Diriyah will have a great offer of residences, such as those already finished by luxury hotel brands Ritz-Carlton, Corinthia and Baccarat, and large plots in the ultra-luxury are of Wadi Safar, where a 27-hole Greg Norman gold course is being built. Everything you may need for daily life will be within 10-15 minutes’ walk: schools, supermarkets, boutiques, museums, sport centres… In terms of connections, there will be three underground lines and a direct train to the international airport.

Corinthia residences, Diriyah

Exterior view of the Corinthia Residences Diriyah, built in the traditional Nadji style.

Visitors can choose from more than 40 five-star hotels in Diriyah, as well as enjoy world-class amenities, lush green spaces, recreational areas and high-end shopping. First class dining is guaranteed at Bujairi Terrace, which was inaugurated in December 2022, where residents and visitors to Diriyah can enjoy the best cuisine from all over the world. Outstanding examples include the Michelin-starred Chez Bruno, Hakkasan, Long Chim and Tatel as well as the iconic French patisserie, Angelina Paris and the Italian pasticceria, Cova.

Bujairi Terrace - Diriyah

Bujairi Terrace offers over 15 world-class dining options including Michelin-star restaurants, international franchises, cafes and local Saudi restaurants.

To me though, the soul of Diriyah is in its artistic and cultural richness, which can be observed in the historic palaces and monuments preserved within At-Turaif, the immersive art installations and exhibitions, and the variety of live musical and theatrical performances organised every season. New cultural assets soon opening in the city include Diriyah Art Futures, the first centre in the region devoted to new media and digital arts, and the Royal Opera House commissioned to the award-winning architectural firm, Snøhetta.

Diriyah will be at Harrods only until 26th July. It is definitely worth a visit to realise what a fascinating place this is and how much it has to offer as a tourist destination and as a place to live. Diriyah Company’s CMO, Kiran Haslam, told me on the day of the inauguration, “This is one of the most striking and exciting collaborations Diriyah has embarked upon. Harrods is best in class.” As the experience is llocated on the groundfloor, it is really accessible for everyone. Kislam added, “Visitors can easily speak to a member of the Diriyah team and explore our master plan, as well as the Ritz Carlton, Corinthia and Baccarat residential projects that are now available to own.”

To learn more about Diriyah, visit: www.diriyah.sa

Words: Julia Pasarón

All photos of Diriyah kindly provided by Diriyah Company.

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