Diriyah. The City of Earth. begins a new chapter in its history as At-Turaif, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the original home of the Al Saud family, and the seat of governance of the First Saudi State, opens its doors to the public for the first time on the 4th of December 2022. The opening season will include a vibrant public program of events, performances, and activities for all visitors to experience which will celebrate and bring the heritage site and birthplace of the Kingdom to life.
Located in the heart of Diriyah, north-west of the capital Riyadh, At-Turaif is the birthplace of the modern Saudi state founded in 1727 and is regarded as one of the country’s most important heritage sites and a symbol of Saudi identity. For over fifty years, this area served as the principal residence of House Al Saud and the administrative district of Diriyah, the center of a state that spanned the Arabian Peninsula.
Visitors will be able to walk through a vast heritage site of restored mudbrick palaces, mosques, former defensive towers, and curated galleries that tell the definitive story of Saudi Arabia’s formation and the rise of the Saudi dynasty. A beautiful example of the distinct Nadji-style architecture, At-Turaif is one of the most historically significant and architecturally impressive mudbrick settlements in the world.
Open all year round and with no ticket required on weekdays until 4 pm, visitors will be able to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site across a variety of mediums to suit their own interests. From guided tours, offered every 30 minutes in Arabic and English; to Nuzul, an immersive theatre across an entire street of the district bringing to life the people and stories from At-Turaif and the surrounding areas; to watching an Al Ardah performance, a dance of vigor and victory of such traditional and historical importance that it is now recognized as a UNESCO intangible heritage asset – there is something for everyone.
Jerry Inzerillo, Group CEO, DGDA, commented: “This opening is an important moment for the Kingdom. It marks the beginning of a new era for “Diriyah. The City of Earth”. At-Turaif is a physical monument to the history of the Saudi nation. It has been preserved over the centuries, and now forms the core of our restoration and enhancement of Diriyah itself, which will once again become a place for cultures across the world to gather. We cannot wait to welcome our visitors to this extraordinary place to experience culture, knowledge, commerce, hospitality, and entertainment once again in a truly unique Saudi way.”
The opening of At-Turaif once again to the public is the jewel in the crown of the $63.2 billion development of Diriyah by DGDA. Aimed at re-establishing Diriyah as a crossroads for humanity and a gathering place for the world, its entirely mudbrick construction and the creation of new cultural, educational, commercial, hospitality and entertainment offerings will help to restore it as a globally connected city where Saudi history is respected, protected, celebrated, and created.
Visitors to At-Turaif during its opening season will also get the chance to visit the newly opened Bujairi Terrace, the highly anticipated culinary district that brings a wealth of carefully curated dining experiences to Diriyah. Here, guests will take a gastronomic journey through several Michelin-star restaurants as well as a number of restaurants that will be opening their first locations outside of their home countries. Additionally, several outlets have never before been seen in Saudi Arabia, providing diners with an assortment of menu options inspired by traditional Saudi and international dishes.
Overlooking the ancient crossroads of culture and trade that is At-Turaif, Bujairi Terrace is organic in its origin, built from the mud, water and straw of Diriyah used in the construction of At-Turaif. It will welcome visitors from all walks of life to once again make Diriyah one of the great gathering places in the world.
Opening to the public on the 4th of December 2022 in parallel with At-Turaif, visitors to Bujairi Terrace will soon be able to reserve a table at one of over 20 restaurants and coffee shops in the district and experience a unique and vibrant mix of interactive entertainment, Saudi artists and musicians that will bring the area to life, immersing diners in the culture and history of Diriyah through live shows and cultural and historic programs.
Jerry Inzerillo, Group CEO, DGDA, stated: “The opening of Bujairi Terrace demonstrates tangible progress in the implementation of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 strategy, and is an exciting illustration of the far-reaching and ambitious national transformation which we are all honored to contribute to. The exciting mix of local Saudi and internationally renowned restaurants will help ensure Bujairi Terrace lives up to its promise of becoming the Kingdom’s premier fine dining destination.”
Four Michelin-starred restaurants will entice diners with their exquisite menus, including Tatel, Hakkasan, Long Chim and Chez Bruno. Internationally acclaimed Café De L’Esplanade and Chez Bruno are both debuting outside of France for the very first time.
These international restaurants join the broad and carefully curated Saudi-owned offerings of Maiz, Somewhere, Sum + Things and TAKYA. Bringing the Saudi offering to life are the likes of MAIZ, which will offer authentic Saudi food from each of the Kingdom’s 13 provinces, and TAKYA, the first Saudi-owned fine dining restaurant serving Saudi cuisine with a contemporary twist that will capture the heart and tastebuds of diners. These local restaurants will offer their take on traditional flavors and deliver them in a truly unique experience that can only be found in Bujairi Terrace.
Ahead of the official opening on December 4th, DGDA held a special Gala dinner at Bujairi Terrace for a number of World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) delegates who were present in Riyadh for the 22nd WTTC Global Summit.
Uniting a wide range of key industry players, this year’s edition of the WTTC Summit showcased Saudi Arabia’s pioneering efforts to reshape the world’s tourism map in a still-recovering, post-COVID world. As one of the industry’s largest events, the annual forum aspires to implement travel sustainability on a global scale.
The At-Turaif and Bujairi Terrace opening gala dinner was attended by Ahmed AlKhateeb, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism, Arnold Donald, Chair of WTTC, Julia Simpson, President and CEO of WTTC, Jerry Inzerillo, GCEO of DGDA and a broad list of other high profile industry leaders.