AD DIRIYAH, November 27 – The Jewel of the Kingdom, home to the Middle East’s first Formula E race, Known as The Home of Kings and Heroes and just minutes from Saudi Arabia’s capital city Riyadh, Ad Diriyah ushers in an era of E-racing in the Middle East by hosting Season 5’s inaugural ABB FIA Formula E Championship race on December 15, 2018.
Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of Ad Diriyah Gate Development Authority, talks about the history of Ad Diriyah, the latest location to join the prestigious ranks of Formula E track sites around the world.
Ad Diriyah is the historical site of the establishment of the first Saudi state and is considered the Jewel of the Kingdom. It embodies the soul of the nation’s history, and the promise of its future. For hundreds of years, its cool mud-brick buildings have been a refuge for those seeking respite from the heat of the desert and a hub where communities can gather, share and grow together. As the Kingdom continues to embrace new technologies, develop renewable energy sources and invest in electrified mobility, hosting the Formula E race at Ad Diriyah represents the essence of Saudi Arabia – a gateway connecting the past and the future and a space for preservation, innovation and togetherness.
Located just minutes from Riyadh, Ad Diriyah was founded in 1446 CE on the banks of the Wadi Hanifah, surrounded by lush agricultural lands. As communities grew in Wadi Hanifah, Ad Diriyah developed into a central gathering point in the Najd Region because of the unifying efforts led by Mohammad bin Saud and Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdul Wahab. Between 1744 and 1818 CE, Ad Diriyah became the site for the first Saudi capital, known as At-Turaif.
Once home to the founding members of Al Saud royal family, At-Turaif is now a prominent UNESCO world heritage site, one of five in Saudi Arabia. Salwa Palace, Al Saud family’s historic home still stands as a symbol of cultural significance and showcases the architectural style native to the area and era. The grand complexes were originally built using adobe and decorated with geometric relief. The resulting landscape is one of dramatic expanse suited for the epic stories of kings and heroes that have emanated from this iconic location for centuries and will continue to be told in new formulations as we cross new frontiers.
Today, Ad Diriyah Gate Development Authority is leading efforts to bring Ad Diriyah to life and introduce it to the world through the development of Ad Diriyah Gate. This wide-ranging project will offer an array of immersive experiences and attractions including the development of open-air museums curated at the At-Turaif UNESCO world heritage site. Additionally, a host of hospitality properties and outlets will reflect traditional and cultural elements of Ad Diriyah’s original inhabitants through interactive experiences, exhibitions and edutainment facilities. Cultivating the values, heritage and history of Ad Diriyah into a global gathering place, Ad Diriyah Gate will offer shared experiences that narrate the stories of Saudi’s rich past in a world-class, must-see destination.
Since the inception of motor racing as a sport, race locales have been as important as the race itself, attracting the world’s finest and most sophisticated auto enthusiasts. Formula E in Ad Diriyah is a continuation of that tradition, offering fans a chance to enjoy the sport while accessing the best in hospitality, culture and community. Ad Diriyah is one of few global historical sites to join the suite of prominent destinations populating the electric motor sport circuit.
The mud-brick architecture – preserved at Ad Diriyah Gate’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, At-Turaif – transformed desert life into urban life in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hundreds of years ago, just as Formula E has ushered in a new era of electric racing that challenges the motorsport of the past. The search for future-proof solutions defines the Kingdom’s transformative Vision 2030, which was inspired by the values first defined in Ad Diriyah and that persist to this day.
Since embarking on Vision 2030, a transformative blueprint for the future, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has looked towards large-scale entertainment, cultural and sports events to enhance quality of life and improve the well-being of its people. Over the past year, the Kingdom has heralded new types of entertainment expression and created new spaces for sharing experiences.
Continuing along this path, the Kingdom will now host the first Formula E race in the Middle East at an extraordinary setting on the Arabian Peninsula – Ad Diriyah. This partnership with Formula E is indicative of the Kingdom’s mission to deliver world-class hospitality and share unforgettable experiences that reflect the state of the world today – diverse, authentic and embracing the future.
As we continue to write the legacy of this historic land and share the stories of our people, Ad Diriyah will be known to all as a source of inspiration and an icon of culture and heritage, continuously committed to excellence.