King Salman bin Abdulaziz has decreed the establishment of renovation commissions tasked with the development of two of the most important archaeological and historic sites in the Kingdom, Al-Ola and Diriyah Gate. These two areas’ historic, cultural and architectural significance are expected to make them major tourist attractions as Saudi Arabia’s hospitality and tourism industry matures to welcome both local and international travellers.
The new Royal Orders issued recently to establish the Royal Commission for Al-Ola Province and Diriyah Gate Renovation Commission are an outgrowth of Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s roadmap to the future. Among the many targets highlighted by Vision 2030, the tourism industry is expected to grow significantly as infrastructure is put in place to attract over one million tourists annually.
Al-Ola commission was formed “considering the importance of developing Al-Ola Province in a way that matches its historical value, and the historical sites it contains; and in line with the economic and cultural interests of the nation; and the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030; and to highlight the gifts of human heritage God bestowed on our country,” said one of the Royal Orders.
Local motifs invoking the distinctive heritage will be incorporated into the design of Diriyah Gate, which looks out over the bank of Wadi Hanifa. Diriyah Gate project is part of a massive plan to develop the historic area by building facilities at its entrance to attract visitors. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee approved Diriyah’s Turaif District as a World Heritage Site in 2010.
The boards of both commissions will be headed by HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Al-Ola is one of the most fascinating vestiges of ancient Arabia, lying 380 km north of Madina. The town was founded in the 6th century and serves as the gateway to the Kingdom’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mada’en Saleh, build over 2,000 years ago by the Nabataeans, who also carved Petra in Jordan.
Diriyah: A small city 20 km from Riyadh. Originally the first capital of the Saudi Royal Dynasty, from 1744 to 1818, the town is an excellent example of Najdi architecture of that period.