Diriyah Gate Development Authority to transform Wadi Hanifah into nature-focused getaway

Wadi Hanifah is to be transformed into a nature-based escape from Riyadh’s bustling city centre according to Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA). Two square kilometres will be transformed with the addition of unique palm groves containing hundreds of thousands of trees from species native to the wadi, as well as creating new parks with walking trails, biking tracks, outdoor games areas and picnic spots where people can gather and enjoy time out, DGDA stated.

Wellness spaces, activity and eco-tourism attractions will be at the heart of the wadi’s enhancements, which aim to improve the quality of life for local residents and visitors, said a statement from DGDA.

“Wadi Hanifah is an integral part of the masterplan for Diriyah. The wadi was what drew people to the area centuries ago and from which sprung the city of Diriyah we are restoring today. The wadi’s status in history as a place of relaxation and recovery has led us to create a destination with ample wellness and recreational offerings that put people first. It will be a haven of nature for our residents and guests which will bring them closer to Diriyah’s immense historical legacy,” said Jerry Inzerillo, group CEO at DGDA.

The Wadi Hanifah masterplan will comprise four interactive zones: Heritage and Cultural Zone; Wadi Living Zone; Eco-Tourism Zone; Sports and Activity Zone.

The Heritage and Culture Zone will take shape adjacent to At-Turaif and will focus on creating a landscape that complements and adds to the visitor experience of both At-Turaif and Bujairi Terrace. The existing park will be extended and refurbished to serve the community, with a theme and character in keeping with the area’s heritage to create a stronger identity. It will also feature a Heritage Art Oasis, a 50-key boutique hotel and Sports Boulevard that will give visitors seamless connectivity to both Wadi Hanifah and Diriyah Gate, the statement explained.

The Wadi Living Zone will be located on the western edge of Diriyah Gate and will include several experiences amidst wadi surroundings with a variety of recreational spaces catering to families and visitors of all ages. These spaces will include picnic areas, an outdoor theatre, a star gazing garden, a storytelling and event space and a children’s play area.

The statement noted that the Eco-Tourism Zone will be to the south of Diriyah Gate, and will feature the Barari Diriyah Wildlife Conservation Centre and Palm Heritage Centre for Research and Development. The Sports and Activity Zone in the southwestern area will feature adventure activities and will have an urban, contemporary feel, while still embracing the wadi’s natural character. The zone can be accessed from the Western Ring Road and will include courts, a skate park and a parkour arena. The zone will also provide facilities for mountain biking, a multi-use games arena, a green caravan route and a central sports pavilion, the statement explained.

The restoration of Wadi Hanifah forms a key part of DGDA’s $50.6bn masterplan that will transform Diriyah into one of the world’s most exciting cultural tourist destinations. Hospitality, commercial, retail and nature offerings will both leverage and elevate the exceptionally distinctive character and cultural importance of the area and support DGDA’s overall mission to share, protect and celebrate Saudi Arabia’s national heritage, the statement concluded.

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