Riyadh (/rɨˈjɑːd/; Arabic: الرياض ar-Riyāḍ Najdi pronunciation: [ar.rɪˈjaːðˤ], "The Gardens") is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province, and belongs to the historical regions of Najd and Al-Yamama. It is situated in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, and is home to 5.7 million people, and the urban centre of a region with a population of close to 7.3 million people.
The city is divided into 15 municipal districts, managed by Riyadh Municipality headed by the mayor of Riyadh, and the Riyadh Development Authority, chaired by the governor of Riyadh Province, Faisal bin Bandar Al Saud. The current mayor of Riyadh is Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Almogbel, appointed in 2012. Riyadh has the largest all female university in the world, the Princess Nora bint Abdulrahman University. It has been designated as a Global City.
|Coordinates: 24°38′N 46°43′E|
The old town of Riyadh within the city walls didn't exceed an area of 1 km2, therefore very few significant architectural remnants of the original walled oasis town of Riyadh exist today. The most prominent is the Masmak fort and some parts of the original wall structure with its gate which have been restored and reconstructed. There are also a number of traditional mud-brick houses within these old limits, however they are for the most part dilapidated.
Expansion outside the city walls was slow to begin with, although there were some smaller oases and settlements surrounding Riyadh. The first major construction beyond the walls was King Abdulaziz'sMurabba Palace. It was constructed in 1936, completed in 1938, and a household of 800 people moved into it in 1938. The palace is now part of a bigger complex called "The King Abdulaziz Historical Centre".
There are other traditional villages and towns in the area around traditional Riyadh which the urban sprawl reached and currently encompasses. These are Diriyah, Manfuha and Wadi Laban to name a few. Unlike in the early days of development in Riyadh during which vernacular structures were razed to the ground without consideration, there is a new-found appreciation for traditional architecture. The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities is making efforts for revitalizing the historic architecture in Riyadh and other parts of the kingdom.
Riyadh is a low level urban center but does not have a maze of high rise buildings. There are two high rise buildings noted for their architectural elegance, the Al Faisaliyah Tower and the Kingdom Tower.
The archeological sites at Riyadh which are of historical importance, in which the Municipality of Riyadh is involved, are the five old gates on the old walls of Riyadh. These are the eastern gate of Thumaira, the northern gate of Al-suwailen, the southern gate of Dukhna, the western gate of Al-Madhbah and the south-western gate of Shumaisi. There are also four historic palaces, which are the Musmak Palace, the Al-Murabba Palace (palace of King Abdul Aziz), Prince Muhammad bin Abdul-Rahman and the Shamsiya Palace.
This fortress was built around 1865 under the reign of Mohammed ibn Abdullah ibn Rasheed (1289–1315 AH), the ruler of Ha'il to the north, who had wrested control of the city from the rival clan of Al Saud. In January 1902 Ibn Saud, who was at the time living in exile in Kuwait succeeded in capturing the Masmak fortress from its Rashid garrison. The event, which restored Saudi control over Riyadh, has acquired almost mythical status in the history of Saudi Arabia. The story of the event is often retold, and has as its central theme the heroism and bravery of the King Abd Abdulaziz Ibn Saud. The Masmak Fortress is now a museum and is in close proximity to the Clock Tower Square, also known as Chop Chop Square.
The tower is built on 94,230 square meters of land. The Kingdom Centre is owned by a group of companies including Kingdom Holding Co. headed by Al-Waleed bin Talal, a prince of the Saudi royal family, and is the headquarters of his holding company, the Kingdom Holding Company. The project cost 2 billion Saudi Arabian Riyals and the contract was undertaken by El-Seif. The Kingdom Centre is the winner of the 2002 Emporis Skyscraper Award, selected as the "best new skyscraper of the year for design and functionality". A three-level shopping center, which also won a major design award, fills the east wing. The large opening is illuminated at night in continuously changing colours. The shopping centre has a separate floor for women only to shop where men are not allowed to enter.
The Kingdom Tower has 99 stories and is the third tallest structure in the country (behind Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel in Mecca and Burj Rafal in Riyadh) rising to 300 m. A special aspect of the tower is that is divided into two parts in the last one third of its height and linked by a sky-bridge walkway, which provides stunning views of Riyadh.
Al Faisaliyah Centre (Arabic: برج الفيصلية) is the first skyscraper constructed in Saudi Arabia, and is the third tallest building in Riyadh after the Burj Rafal and the Kingdom Centre. The golden ball that lies atop the tower is said to be inspired by a ballpoint pen, and contains a restaurant; immediately below this is an outside viewing deck. There is a shopping centre with major world brands at ground level. Al Faisaliyah Centre also has a hotel at both sides of the tower while the main building is occupied by offices run by different companies. The Al Faisaliyah Tower has 44 stories. It is a lunch place for people who work in the tower.
The Riyadh TV Tower is a 170 meter high television tower located inside the premises of Saudi Ministry of Information. It is vertical cantilever structure which was built between 1978–81, 9:23 P.M, and this year was called TV Year. The first movie made in 1983 by the TV tower group and named "1,000 Nights and Night" had Mohammed Abdu and Talal Mmdah as the main characters. At that time, there were no women on TV because of religious restrictions. Three years later, Abdul Khaliq Al-Ghanim produced TV series called "Tash Ma Tash" earned a good reaction from the gulf's audience. This series created a media revolution back in the 1980s.
In 1999 a new central Museum was built in Riyadh at the eastern side of the King Abdul Aziz Historical Centre. This National Museum of Saudi Arabia combined several collections and pieces that had up until then been scattered over several Institutions and places in Riyadh and the Kingdom. For example the meteorite fragment known as the "Camel's Hump" that was on display at the King Saud University in Riyadh became the new entry piece of the National Museum of Saudi Arabia.
The Royal Saudi Air Force Museum or Saqr Al-Jazira is located on the East Ring Road of Riyadh between exits 10 and 11. It contains a collection of aircraft and aviation-related items used by the Royal Saudi Air Force and Saudia.