Saudi Arabia's Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) will start work on its 7.1 million-sq-m mega development, starting from this November, following the approval of three detailed plans for the development of Diriyah by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The DGDA will oversee the restoration of Diriyah and develop a number of major new historical and tourism assets including museums, academic institutions and “edutainment” facilities, as well as resorts, restaurants, wellness facilities and high-end retail in a mega development on the west side of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s booming capital city.

The initiative is a key deliverable in Crown Prince’s Saudi 2030 Vision to modernise the kingdom, engage Saudi citizens, and welcome guests from all over the world, DGDA CEO Gerard Inzerillo told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Saudi Arabia plans to announce the tourist visa by the fourth quarter, stated Inzerillo, pointing out that Diriyah will directly and indirectly create about 55,000 jobs by 2030 and include about 200 buildings that serve all activities and events.

Inzerillo also discussed challenges and hopes for the development of Diriyah Gate and the participation of Saudi youth in shaping the future of their country.

"Three preliminary plans for the Diriyah project were presented to the Crown Prince, who also serves as head of the DGDA board," he stated.

"Al-Turaif in Diriyah is a historic neighborhood and has been listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Dubbed as “the jewel”, Turaif is included in the plan along with the Hanifa historic valley and Es-Saffar," revealed Inzerillo.

The mega project will also be the home of the world’s largest Islamic museum.

“We have launched a global design competition for the Diriyah project and the contest is an open challenge to all professionals in both the kingdom and across the globe to create stunning designs for the region,” he added.

A key highlight of the project will be an exclusive 3.5-sq-km area for pedestrians where no cars will be allowed to enter. "We will also be hosting hundreds of events throughout the year with dozens of restaurants, cafes, and about 13 international hotels," he added.

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