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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Diriyah Co. unveils culture, hospitality assets at Bashayer event
RIYADH: Diriyah Company showcased the second phase of its ‘masterplan’ at its two-day Bashayer event this week.
Group CEO Jerry Inzerillo said: “The Bashayer event is the focal point of Diriyah’s annual calendar. Showcasing our progress and outlining our future, this event is a crucial moment that sets the stage for the next chapter of Diriyah’s development. As we move closer towards our masterplan goals, we have now firmly entered the delivery phase and our offering will only continue to grow.”
Having showcased the gated community of Wadi Safar on the event’s first day, the company announced a series of new culture and hospitality assets on the second day, including Diriyah Art Futures, the Royal Diriyah Opera House, and Bab Samhan, a luxury hotel. It also broke ground on four other new hotels in Diriyah: the Ritz-Carlton, the Address, the Capella, and the Four Seasons.
As the first new-media-arts center in the area, Diriyah Art Futures is billed as “a vibrant center for creative production and exchange in the center of Diriyah.” It will reportedly have a state-of-the-art laboratory, an exhibition space, and will focus on “the intersectionality of art and science by promoting research and education and giving artists the tools to experiment and produce works of art that push the boundaries of their creative processes.”
The building, designed by Italian firm Schiattarella Associati, integrates the surrounding nature into its architectural structure, in line with the Ministry of Culture and Diriyah Company’s commitment to preserving the Kingdom’s unique heritage while creating opportunities for creative artistic expression.
Amedeo Schiattarella, chairman of the architectural firm, told Arab News: “We think that architects must be at the service of a community, so we felt at the service of the Saudi community … I think that we’ve done something which is going in the right direction — that means living and studying the past, but also looking to our (grandchildren) and also the future. It means working with contemporary architecture, the contemporary language, but not losing the sense of our being.”
The Royal Diriyah Opera House will, according to Diriyah Company, “showcase Diriyah as a global hub of culture and creativity, mindfully designed according to the authentic Najdi architectural style and global sustainability standards.”
The four hotels on which ground was ceremonially broken at the event are also inspired by Najdi architecture, as is Bab Samhan – the fifth hotel highlighted during the event’s second day, and one of more than 40 planned hotels in the company’s masterplan. It is a Luxury Collection hotel, and will be the first to welcome guests when it opens next year with 106 standard rooms, 28 suites, and one royal suite.
“(Bab Samhan) is made completely out of mud and you can see how beautiful (it is). And it feels like it did in the old days,” Inzerillo explained. “The rooms are beautiful — (designed) in the Najdi (style). All the fabrics are very carefully made just for this hotel (and) the art here is all made by Saudi artists.”
The hotel boasts a wide range of facilities, including a lobby lounge, ballrooms, meeting rooms, a spa with an indoor swimming pool, a gym, all-day dining options, and specialty restaurants, one of which will be operated by renowned celebrity chef, Michael Mina.
It is located close to a number of areas of interest to tourists, including Wadi Hanifa, Bujairi Terrace, Diriyah Art Futures, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site At-Turaif, all of which are accessible on foot.
After revitalizing more than six kilometers of Wadi Hanifah, Diriyah Co. has restocked the ancient valley with native flora and fauna, demonstrating its dedication to sustainability.
“Now we’re getting ready to continue to welcome people from all over the world,” Inzerillo said. “We’ve already welcomed 1 million people to the UNESCO World Heritage Site this year. By the time Ramadan comes, we’ll welcome another million people as they enjoy Diriyah Season.”
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