About Historic Al-Dir'iya

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  • Al-Dir'iya is viewed as an important national symbol in the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It had emerged as the capital of the new First Saudi State, establishment of which constitutes the turning point in the history of the Arabian Peninsula, when young Al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud, founder of the First Saudi State had supported the call of the religious scholar and reformer Mohammad bin Abdul Wahab in 1157 AH/1744CE. Al Dir'iya became the State capital of the young Saudi Arabia.
  • ​​​For quite sometime, Al-Dir'iya continued to be the capital of First Saudi State until Imam Turki bin Abdullah shifted  to Riyadh as the new headquarters of his Government in 1240 AH/1824 CE.
  • Al Dir'iya is a historic oasis located on the banks of Wadi Hanifa. It is closely linked to Wadi Hanifa environmentally and culturally creating some kind of emotional and positive bond between man and nature, which in turn has had a great impact socially, economically and culturally in the region. Through this interaction with the environment it embodied the cultural identity of the region to become a symbol of an authenticity. Then gradually it became a model of thriving oasis community in the desert environment.  
  • Al Dir'iya is distinguished for its nature and beautiful settings, such as streams and fertile lands and topography representing stunning landmarks contributing to local people’s cultural expertise in architecture and life style as reflected in the construction of their dwellings and agricultural villages and the irrigation network in its neighborhood.
  • Name “Al Dir'iya” is attributed to its resident families and early settlers.  It was believed to be drawn from the name Al Doroa Hissn “Fortress Shield”.  Al Doroa is a tribe that had settled in Wadi Hanifa and ruled Al Hajr and Al Jaza areas for a long time. “Bin Deri”, one of its rulers had invited his cousin (son of his uncle), Mani Al Meredi of Al Marda clan from Bani Hanifa, who was living in the Najd lands, east of Arabian Peninsula, to settle in the Wadi Hanifa.  The invited clan settled in an area between Qasiba and Al Melaibeed. 
  • The beginning of the foundation of present Dir'iya began with the arrival of Mani Al Meredi, the ancestor of the Saudi royal family,​ in 850 AH/1446 CE.   
  • In a short time, Al Dir'iya became an important station along the trade rout, linking the Arabian Peninsula from west to east, in addition to the control of the pilgrimage route to Makkah. It was having a jurisdiction over a number of villages of Wadi Hanifa and its power extended until Darmain on the western side of Jebel Twaiq and the Aba Al Kabash in the North of Dir'iya.
  • In 1157-1233 AH/1788-1818 CE, in the rule of Prince Imam Mohammad bin Saud, founder of the First Saudi State, who adopted the call of reform of Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdul Wahab, a new page in the history of Dir'iya began. Al Dir'iya became the most powerful in the Najd country and achieved many successes by adhering to the message of reform.  Its political, military, religious standing attracted huge wealth and prosperity and merchants flocked to its markets. Gradually it became a beacon for science and education, and witnessed a flow of students from neighboring States.
  • The famous Imams of the first Saudi State were wise, steadfast and committed to religious values. and upholders of the spirit of Islamic faith as its customs and traditions. This led to significant safety and people live in safety of their life, property and trade. Gradually, many areas around the Arabian Peninsula came under the control of Al Dir'iya, including Al Ared, Al Ahsa, Al Qaseem, Jabel Shamar, Makkah, Madina, Al Hejaz, Taif and the territories of Tehama and Yemen.
  • Al Dir'iya was a very famous city in Wadi Hanifa during the 12th and 13th century Hijri/17th and 18th century C.E, and remained famous until after the armies of the Ottoman Empire led to the destruction of its environment and geographic presence in 1233 AH /1818 C.E.

Historic Al Dir'iya Development Program:

Al Dir'iya Development Program is a mega and leading project besides it enjoys the attention and direct follow up of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (may Allah protect him), who adopted the project in the light of its importance of development and preservation of such historical and prominent landmark.
 
The project reflects part of government’s attention towards the development and preservation of the national heritage given its role in the preservation of national history and highlighting Saudi people’s contribution to the episodes of foundation and unification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, besides it became one of the key elements of the project of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques which was recently approved by the State. 
 
Historic Al Dir'iya has persistently enjoyed the national protection by the State.  This attention was reflected in a number of Royal Decrees aiming at the preservation and development of the site, including its developmental programs under Al Dir'iya’s Comprehensive Development Program, which is compatible to the rules and regulations of preservation of the cultural and natural heritage, besides a special considerations for the Turaif neighborhood within its fold, as a unique architectural example and historic quarters, has its own singularity in the history of the modern Saudi Arabia.
 
Given its historic and national importance, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (may Allah protect him), then the Governor of Riyadh province and Head of the Supreme Committee of the Celebration of 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, had ordered the formation of a committee to discuss Al Dir'iya’s development upon a request submitted by His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, President of SCTH.
 
The committee which was chaired by HRH President of SCTH, had aimed at setting up a comprehensive metropolitan developmental program to highlight the historic role of Al Dir'iya and turn it into a tourist and cultural center at the national level.
 
The suggestion of HRH President of SCTH had a great role in assigning Al Dir'iya’s development program to the Ar-Riyadh Development Authority (ADA), in order for its projects to be closely followed-up and precisely executed in accordance with the comprehensive plan of the developmental program.
 
On 8th October, 1998, a Royal Decree No. (m/528) was issued for approving Al Dir'iya’s development by Ar-Riyadh Development Authority (ADA) to undertake the execution of the program and to form the Supreme Committee of Al Dir'iya Development under the Chairman of ADA and membership of then the Secretary General of ADA in addition to a number of officials of relevant authorities. 
 
Role of SCTH in the Development of Al Dir'iya:

This project provides a successful model of adopting partnership approach between SCTH and ADA as site’s development process has been achieved in accordance with the latest international standards during which SCTH has spared no efforts in offering its knowledge and expertise in the development of tourism sites while ADA has given its innate experience in the supervision of mega developmental projects. In addition help of several relevant organizations was sought, such as King Abdul Aziz Dara which concerns of documentation of the Saudi State history.
 
Development Program Objective:

The program mainly aims to develop Historic Al Dir'iya through reconstructing its historical buildings and monuments and transforming the site into a touristic and cultural center nationally and internationally, taking into account the site’s historical, cultural, architectural and environmental features and adopted to modern requirements. 
 
Development and Registration of Turaif Neighborhood in the World Heritage List:
 
HRH President of SCTH was paying great attention to the registration of the Turaif Neighborhood in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. For this purpose, SCTH in early 2008, had submitted the site’s credential file to the World Heritage Committee, requesting registration of Turaif site in the World Heritage List.
 
The Turaif Neighborhood site later on was registered in the World Heritage List on Saturday, 31st July, 2010, after the completion of several important steps and projects that made the site are eligible for inclusion in the "World Heritage List" of UNESCO.
 
Importance of Turaif Neighborhood:

Turaif Neighborhood is considered as one of the most important landmarks in the Historic Al Dir'iya since it is the home of the most important archeological buildings, palaces and historical monuments. It includes many of the administrative buildings of the Saudi First State, such as Salwa Palace which was built in the late sixteen century Hijri and it was a ruling base of the whole country.  Besides, there are many other landmarks, like the Imam Mohammad bin Saud Mosque, Saad bin Saud Palace, Nasir bin Saud Palace, Traditional Guesthouse which consists of Turaif Hamam (bathrooms).
 
Turaif is surrounded by a large fence with towers that were used for surveillance and the defense of the city in the past.
 
 
Turaif Projects:
 
Cadastral and Visual Documentation:

This phase included cadastral of archeological buildings, remnants of old buildings and removing debris as well as documentation of architectural elements and archeological items contained in these buildings.
 
Archeological Documentation of Turaif Neighborhood:

This phase included restoration of all the buildings’ internal and external elements, rehabilitation of site’s buildings for the museum and administrative uses, preserving the elements of existing buildings, restoring and protecting them from deterioration, restoring of building frontispieces that are overseeing the site’s streets and pathways.
 
Rehabilitation of Imam Mohammad bin Saud Mosque:

The rehabilitation project of the mosque included archeological excavation to unearth mosque’s original bases as well as restoring the existing part of the mosque and reuse of it as a prayer location again.
 
Al Dir'iya Museum in Salwa Palace:

The museum aims to introduce the history of the Saudi First State through a number of museum exhibits and activities. The museum offers an open air show among the restored ruins along a special corridor devoted for this purpose that consists of information screens on the most important parts of the palace and historic events that took place there, in addition to the closed museum display, which includes panels, mockups, relics and documentaries.
 
Social Life Museum:

The museum sheds light on the daily life, customs and traditions, used tools at the prosperity times of the Saudi First State. The museum is located in Omar bin Saud Palace and the surrounding mud buildings.
 
Military Museum:
The military museum is located within the buildings neighboring the Thinayan bin Saud Palace, in which the military events and materials highlighting Al Dir'iya history are displayed, such as war tools and famous battles. In addition, another separate museum where the show is devoted inside the Palace which displays the episodes of Al Dir'iya defense at the end of its reign.
 
Arabian Horse Museum:

The museum aims to introduce the Arabian horses and the proper ways of horse breeding during Al Dir'iya period of prosperity. The museum is located within the neighboring buildings of Imam Abdullah bin Saud Palace and the horse stables next the palace.
 
Trade and Monetary Museum:
The museum is located within the buildings of ‘Bait Al Mal’ (Money House) and Sabalat Mody (free drinking water fountain). The museum display the economic prosperity that Al Dir'iya had witnessed, in addition to displaying a number of coins, scales and endowments.
 
Visitor Center:

The visitor center offers tourist-guiding services to the visitors of Turaif neighborhood. The center is a new building located opposite to Salwa Palace contains technical equipment for displaying.
 
Light and Sound, and Multimedia Shows:

The show offers audio drama narrating the history of the Saudi First State in addition to spot lights over Salwa Palace using Light and Sound technology, in addition to five shows of multimedia at selected locations in the neighborhood.
 
Al Dir'iya Documentation Center:

The center is located in the Ibrahim bin Saud Palace. It constitutes a documentary reference for Al Dir'iya and Turaif neighborhood history. Also it is used as a location by the research, documentation and study teams.
 
Turaif Management Center:
The center is located at Fahad bin Saud Palace and it manages everything related to administrative affairs in Turaif neighborhood.
 
Turaif Souk:

The souk offers traditional and local handicraft products. It is located within a number of restored buildings devoted to display such elements, and consists of a number of restaurants, and visitor services.
 
Turaif Facilities and Services:

Included infrastructure development, services network, main and sub-streets networks.
 
Al Bejairi Neighborhood Projects:

Al Bejairi Neighborhood enjoys scientific importance as it is the first ever university in the Najd region, which has graduated several generations of Islamic scholars. Al Bejairi is located on the eastern bank of Wadi Hanifa. It includes the mosque of Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdul Wahab, which is one of the most significant landmarks in the neighborhood. In addition, it includes a number of mosques and Qur’an traditional schools (Katateeb) which had greatly contributed to the prosperity of education and science in the region.
 
Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdul Wahab Foundation:

The foundation is a scientific board devoted to highlighting the scientific and intellectual heritage of Sheikh Mohammad and take care of his intellectual doctrine, his religious studies and calls and it serves the researchers in this area.
 
Central Area:   

The central area consists of shops, restaurants, car parking besides the major courtyard of Al Bejairi Neighborhood, management service office and Al Dir'iya grand park.
 
Al Zewaihrah Mosque:

Al Zewaihrah Mosque dates back to the First Saudi State times (1233-1157 Hijri/1744-1817 C.E). It is considered as one of the oldest mosques in Al Dir'iya municipality and one of its significant historic landmarks. Technical inspection has shown the building’s need for restoration and rehabilitation in accordance with a scientific approach using the archeological facilities rehabilitation technology.  Al Turath, a charity foundation devoted to heritage preservation, undertakes restoration and rehabilitation works in the mosque at the expenses of HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, President of SCTH.
 
Samhan Rehabilitation Neighborhood:

Samhan Neighborhood consists of a number of mud buildings owned by the State and are estimated at 36 buildings each with one or two stories. Samhan is one of the sites under rehabilitation by SCTH in an attempt to be transformed into a heritage hotel.
 
SCTH is setting up an operational plan to employ the site for economic, social, cultural, heritage and touristic purposes, as well as transforming it into heritage inn.  It aims to bring it to life through creating positive interaction between the site, with due respect to its heritage and local products and handicraft on the one hand, and the site’s tourism and heritage plan on the other.
 
The rehabilitation efforts are carried out in collaboration with International Restoration Group, an international specialized firm from Spain in the field of restoration and preservation. The site's rehabilitation is carried out in accordance with the latest international standards.
 
The company (International Restoration Group), which is assigned to set up the studies of the first phase. Rehabilitation project has already concluded the field studies which included cadastral, removal debris, digging up the buildings' bases and inspecting construction conditions of heritage buildings and analyzing site's soil, in addition to undertaking historical studies.
 
The second phase of the project will include the conclusion of designing studies and executive schemes for the rehabilitation of Samhan Neighborhood as a heritage hotel. This phase as well as the execution and operation phases will be offered through the Saudi Heritage Hospitality Company.
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