Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that the project to boost and develop the city of Diriyah will be part of the state's Vision 2030 plans. Riyadh will add to the Public Investment Fund (PIF) portfolio the investment needed to make Diriyah a key destination in the country's tourism economy. One of the main objectives is to enhance cooperation between the private and public sectors. Diriyah is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kingdom. The project previously run by a private institution will now be supported by the state.
Major projects represent a key pillar of the Public Investment Fund's strategy. The capacity to develop new infrastructure systems, improve opportunities and support the diversification of the economy in line with Vision 2030 are one of the main objectives to be developed by the Public Investment Fund. The gigantic project is part of a plan developed and overseen by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, through his leadership of the sovereign wealth fund, which manages a portfolio worth more than $620 billion, and has increased its capabilities through various funding sources in recent years.
The renovated city of Diriyah, known as the capital of Saudi tourism, will showcase Saudi Arabia's more than three centuries of authentic history and culture by providing unique and inspiring heritage experiences, educational and cultural opportunities, world-class residential living and exceptional lifestyle offerings including shopping, entertainment and dining experiences. Located just 20 minutes northwest of the capital, the city of Diriyah is expected to become one of the world's most visited destinations for both tourism and business. At the heart of the development is At-Turaif, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an iconic adobe city and capital of the first Saudi state.
The total cost of the Diriyah development is approximately $50 billion, with the project to be implemented in three phases and the first phase costing $20 billion. The project envisages the construction of 38 hotels, including hotels to be included in the historic area, Four Seasons, Rosewood, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Oberoi, Six Senses, Orient Express and Raffles. The historic Diriyah region will also add 20,000 properties to the housing stock in the Riyadh region by 2027. Real estate consultancy Knight Frank said 46 per cent of the project's construction had already been completed, having spent $5bn so far.
The Diriyah project is expected to help enable several strategic local sectors, in addition to creating partnership opportunities with the private sector. It will also enable the launch of a range of new investment opportunities in the project through the various stages of development and implementation, including the construction, operation and management of hotels, residential units, shopping malls, entertainment and cultural facilities. The project will also help generate thousands of job opportunities and introduce initiatives that will help raise the quality of life in the region. And while Saudi Arabia previously promoted advertising campaigns for archaeological sites and picturesque nature, the authorities are now focusing on diversifying destinations to attract tourists.
Industry experts believe that Saudi Arabia, which is trying to reduce its dependence on oil to raise revenue, with its natural and geographical diversity, is a promising destination for such investment, especially as it can compete internationally in this field. Since its inception, the government has communicated major tourism projects, including the NEOM project, which is a large economic, tourism and recreational area in the northwest of the country, with investments of half a billion dollars.