With over five decades of experience working at the world’s most prominent hotel brands, Jerry Inzerillo, group chief executive officer of Diriyah Company, is responsible for overseeing the development of one of Saudi Arabia’s most ambitious projects; Diriyah, the City of Earth. In an exclusive interview with HN, we explore the historic city of Diriyah and its transformation into a world-class cultural and lifestyle destination.
How does Diriyah Company plan to preserve and showcase the historical significance of the Diriyah area while also modernizing it to attract visitors?
Diriyah is of huge historical and cultural importance to Saudi Arabia. As the birthplace of the First Saudi State and the ancestral home of the House of Al Saud, its illustrious history laid the foundation for the growth of the entire country. Diriyah is first and foremost the heart of Saudi heritage and culture, which is why it will never have the appearance or feel like a futuristic or ultra-modern city. Its uniqueness, character and value are evident in its authentic Najdi architecture, which is inspired by the At-Turaif district and built with natural sustainable building materials and a traditional wadi-inspired lifestyle. These are all fundamental principles of our development work and are evident in all our hospitality collaborations.
We have partnered with over 34 of the world’s most renowned hotel brands and are integrating the latest technologies and experiences to deliver a destination that seamlessly blends history, heritage and culture, with the best in modern hospitality and connectivity.
Combined with the quality and breadth of its culinary and entertainment offerings unmatched anywhere in the region, Diriyah will truly be the Middle East’s premier cultural tourist destination and will be amongst the most revered and lauded in the world.
What can people expect to experience at Diriyah?
Diriyah is a journey. Its rich history and deeply rooted spirit transports visitors through the different development phases of the Kingdom.
Diriyah tells a story of evolution, resilience and perseverance, since it began as a nascent town, to the capital of the First Saudi State, its destruction and rebirth.
The historic UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif is a marvel of the Arabian Peninsula and the world. To walk among the ruins of the birthplace of the Kingdom, explore museums charting and exploring its growth and seeing its traditions being passed to the next generation with workshops and community engagement provides a uniquely personal and connected voyage of discovery.
At Bujairi Terrace, you will find one of the most expansive assortments of global cuisine anywhere in the world. Four Michelin-starred restaurants, international brands like Angelina’s and local brands such as MAIZ and Takya, complement one another in offering a vast array of choices for even the most ardent food fan. At Diriyah, you will discover a Kingdom and leave with a connection that will remain with you for a lifetime.
How does Diriyah contribute to the growth of tourism in Saudi Arabia and the region?
As one of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 giga-projects, Diriyah plays a key role in the Kingdom’s tourist economy’s growth. By the end of the decade, following the development masterplan, Diriyah will attract 27 million annual visitors and create 55,000 permanent jobs.
With an estimated addition of USD 7.2 billion to Saudi Arabia’s GDP, the opportunities at Diriyah are endless. Part of the Vision 2030 strategy and under the guidance of the dynamic leadership of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Diriyah will play the role of a catalyst for success.
With almost 86 percent of Diriyah Company’s staff being Saudi, 14 percent Diriyah locals and 36 percent of staff being women, of whom 16 percent hold management roles within Diriyah Company, this project is a physical example of the huge opportunities that tourism growth is bringing Saudis.
We are all incredibly proud to be playing such a prominent and successful role in Vision 2030’s transformation of Saudi Arabia, both in terms of tourism and for the Saudi population. We are just getting started and there is so much more to come – it will be quite an adventure!