During the Pre-Islamic era the settlement at the site was called Hajr (Arabic: حجر), and was reportedly founded by the tribe of Banu Hanifa. Hajr served as the capital of the province of Al Yamamah, whose governors were responsible for most of central and eastern Arabia during the Umayyad and Abbasid eras. Al-Yamamah broke away from the Abbasid Empire in 866 and the area fell under the rule of the Ukhaydhirites, who moved the capital from Hajr to nearby Al Kharj. The city then went into a long period of decline. In the 14th century, North African traveller Ibn Battuta wrote of his visit to Hajr, describing it as "the main city of
, and its name is Hajr". Ibn
Battuta goes on to describe it as a city of canals and trees with most of its
inhabitants belonging to Bani Hanifa, and reports that he continued on with
their leader to Al-Yamamah
to perform the Hajj. Mecca
Later on, Hajr broke up into several separate settlements and estates. The most notable of these were Migrin (or Muqrin) and Mi'kal, though the name Hajr continued to appear in local folk poetry. The earliest known reference to the area by the name
comes from a 17th-century chronicler reporting on an event from the year 1590.
In 1737, Deham ibn Dawwas, a refugee from neighboring Manfuha, took control of Riyadh . Ibn Dawwas built
a single wall to encircle the various quarters of Riyadh , making them effectively a single
The three Saudi states
In 1744, Muhammad ibn Abdel Wahhab formed an alliance with Muhammad ibn Saud, the ruler of the nearby town of
. Ibn Saud then set out to conquer the
surrounding region with the goal of bringing it under the rule of a single
Islamic state. Ibn Dawwas of Diriyah
led the most determined resistance, allied with forces from Al Kharj, Al Ahsa,
and the Banu Yam clan of Najran. Riyadh
However, Ibn Dawwas fled and
capitulated to the Saudis in 1774, ending long years of wars, and leading to
the declaration of the . First
First Saudi State
was destroyed by forces sent by Muhammad Ali of Egypt,
acting on behalf of the Ottoman Empire.
Ottoman forces razed the Saudi capital Diriyah in 1818. In 1823, Turki ibn
Abdallah, the founder of the Second Saudi State,
revived the state and chose
as the new capital. Internecine struggles between Turki's grandsons led to the
fall of the Riyadh Second Saudi State
in 1891 at the hand of the rival Al Rashid clan, who ruled from the northern
city of . Ha'il itself fell under
the rule of Al Rashid in 1865. The al-Masmak fort dates from that period. Riyadh
The city was recaptured in 1902 from the Al Rashid family by King Abdulaziz. He went on to establish the modern
of Saudi Arabia in 1932, with the capital of the
Classified as having a hot desert climate (Köppen: BWh). Summer temperatures are extremely hot, approaching 50 °C (122 °F) occasionally. The average high temperature in July is 44 °C (111 °F). Winters are warm with cold, windy nights. The overall climate is arid, receiving very little rainfall, but the city receives a fair amount of rain in March and April. It is also known to have many dust storms. The dust is often so thick that visibility is under 10 m (33 ft).
The branch municipalities are Al-Shemaysi, Irqah, Al-Ma'athar, Al-Olayya, Al-Aziziyya, Al-Malaz, Al-Selayy, Nemar, Al-Neseem, Al-Shifa, Al-'Urayja, Al-Bat'ha, Al-Ha'ir, Al-Rawdha, and Al-Shimal ("the North"). Although the Riyadh Development Authority conducts projects in Dir'iyyah, administratively, Al-Diriyah is a separate city outside of the
and is the seat of its own governorate. Riyadh Municipality
Examples of some of the main districts of
are the following: Riyadh
Manfuha Al-Jadidah (منفوحة الجديدة – "new Manfuha")
Umm Al-Hamam (East)
4 Al-'Olayya & Sulaymaniyyah
King Fahd District
Umm Al-Hamam (East)
Umm Al-Hamam (West)
Al-Ma'athar Al-Shimali ("North Ma'athar")
Imam Muhammad ibn Saud University main campus
Olaya District is the commercial heart of the city, with accommodation, entertainment, dining and shopping options. The
, Al Faisalyah and Kingdom Center Al-Tahlya Street
are the area's most prominent landmarks.
The Diplomatic Quarter, or DQ as it is popularly known, is home to foreign embassies and international organizations as well as residential structures and malls. With lush gardens and numerous sports facilities, it is also one of the city's greenest areas. It is especially known for its fine architecture, and is considered[by whom?] a model for other Islamic cities around the world. Despite its name, the special privileges offered in the Diplomatic Quarter constitute a controversial issue. All Saudi laws must be obeyed and there are occasional patrols by the Mutaween, or Saudi religious police. However, foreign diplomats and their families are allowed certain privileges and it is not very uncommon to see foreign diplomats and their wives strolling on the streets of the DQ in shorts and short-sleeve shirts.
The old town of
the city Walls did exceed an area of 1 square km, therefore very few
significant architectural remnants of the original walled oasis town of exist today. The
most prominent is the Masmak fort and some parts of the original wall structure
with its gate which have been restored and reconstructed. There are also a
number of traditional mud-brick houses within these old limits, however they
are for the most part dilapidated. Riyadh
Expansion outside the city walls was slow to begin with, although there were some smaller oases and settlements surrounding
The first major construction beyond the walls was King Abdulaziz's Riyadh . It was constructed in 1936,
completed in 1938, and a household of 800 people moved into it in 1938. The
palace is now part of a bigger complex called "The King Abdulaziz
Historical Centre". Murabba Palace
There are other traditional villages and towns in the area around traditional
which the urban sprawl reached and currently encompasses. These are Diriyah,
Manfuha and Wadi Laban to name a few. Unlike in the early days of development
during which vernacular structures were razed to the ground without consideration,
there is a new-found appreciation for traditional architecture. The Saudi
Commission for Tourism and Antiquities is making efforts for revitalizing the
historic architecture in Riyadh
and other parts of the kingdom. Riyadh
Burj Al Faisaliyah
Al Faisaliyah Center (Arabic: برج الفيصلية) is the first skyscraper constructed in
and is the second tallest building in Riyadh
after the . The golden ball
that lies atop the tower is said to be inspired by a ballpoint pen, and
contains a restaurant; immediately below this is an outside viewing deck. There
is a shopping center with major world brands at ground level. Al Faisaliyah
Center also has a hotel at both sides of the tower while the main building is
occupied by offices run by different companies. Kingdom
The Riyadh TV Tower is a 170 meter high television tower located inside the premises of Saudi Ministry of Information. It was completed in 1978.
The headquarters for the country's Interior Ministry has a unique design of an upside down pyramid.
This castle was built around 1865 under the reign of Mohammed ibn Abdullah ibn Rasheed (1289–1315 AH), the ruler of Ha'il to the north, who had wrested control of the city from the rival clan of Al Saud. In January 1902 Ibn Saud, who was at the time living in exile in
succeeded in capturing the
Masmak fortress from its Rashid garrison. The event, which restored Saudi
control over Kuwait Riyadh, has acquired almost mythical
status in the history of . The story of the event is often
retold, and has as its central theme the heroism and bravery of the King Abd
Abdulaziz Ibn Saud. Saudi
In addition to being the center of power, the city is also a commercial hub. Numerous educational, financial, agricultural, cultural, technical, and social organizations have set up base here. The architecture is mostly modern, including contemporary high-rise towers, but the Al-Dira district, the nucleus of the city, has been rebuilt in a style meant to evoke the old mud-brick buildings of pre-20th century
From the beginning of oil exploration in
the present day, the government has promoted growth in the private sector by
privatizing industries such as power and telecommunications. Saudi Arabia
announced plans for privatizing the electricity companies. A lot of these new
private conglomerates and companies headquarters are located in Saudi Arabia , along with National
Banks headquarters. Because of that, Riyadh Riyadh is
considered as the capital city financial and business center of the Middle East.
King Abdullah Financial District
King Abdullah Financial District will be the
Middle East's first financial district on a scale, and of
regulatory and technological standards, to match the major global financial
centres. Explaining the background to the Kingdom's ambitious but attainable
strategy, His Majesty said: 'We are blessed with a robust economy, a stable
currency and a strong financial sector with equally strong supervision.' The
intention to construct the world's first major financial district of the twenty
first century is the latest stage in what is already a carefully planned and
implemented programme of financial modernisation by . Saudi Arabia
King Fahd road is the main road in
city and considered as the most beautiful street of . It was constructed in 1980–1981. Many
business places in Riyadh
prefer to locate their head offices on King Fahd road, and headquarters of
major companies and organizations are located on both sides of the road. Huge
malls, business towers and skyscrapers are widely distributed on this road.
However, many roads are becoming more attractive to businesses as King Fahd
road is now crowded most times of the day. King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz road,
Mohammed bin Fahd "Tahlia", Prince Sultan, north ring road have all
became alternatives for business and companies' head offices. Riyadh
The northern end reaches the Airport over another highway. By many opinions.
King Fahd Road
is one of the most beautiful streets in , making the road a
popular tourist attraction. Famous landmarks such as Kingdom Centre, Al
Faisaliyah Center, Al Anoud Tower and the Ministry of Interior building are
also located on Saudi Arabia King Fahd Road.
However, it is fast becoming second to King Abdullah Street which has seen major
building projects and a train track and tunnel system is currently under
The industrial areas are located on the East and the North-East of the city, including some of the world's largest factories of oil-related industries. Aramco has large operations in the area which includes oil refineries. Electricity and water-treatments plants supply the city with their much-needed energy and water, which also reach the nearby towns.
The population of the city was 40,000 in 1935 and 83,000 in 1949. The city has experienced very high rates of population growth, from 150,000 inhabitants in the 1960s to over 5 million, according to the most recent sources.
The city has over 4,300 mosques
In the city's municipal cemeteries, graves are not permitted to have tombstones, but in March 2012 local authorities approved a project to mark each grave using electronic devices. Spokesman Sulaiman Al-Bathi explained: "This will put an end to the old methods used by families, relatives and friends to identify the graves of their loved ones"
Like other Saudi cities, the Nejdi dish kabsa is the most traditional meal in
The Yemeni dish mandi is also a popular meal, particularly as a lunchtime meal.
Fast food is also popular in the city, with several multinational chains. In
addition, there are various Pizza Huts throughout the city. Riyadh
Museums and collections
In 1999 a new central Museum was built in
at the eastern side of the King Abdul
Aziz Historical Centre. This National Museum of Saudi Arabia combined several
collections and pieces that had up till then been scattered over several
Institutions and places in Riyadh
and the Kingdom. For example the meteorite fragment known as the "Camel's
Hump" that was on display at the Riyadh King
became the new entry piece of the National Museum of Saudi Arabia. Riyadh
Royal Saudi Air Force Museum
or Saqr Al-Jazira is located on the East
Ring Road of
between exits 10 and 11. It contains a collection of aircraft and
aviation-related items used by the Royal Saudi Air Force and Saudia. Riyadh
Football is the most popular sport in
. The city hosts four major football
clubs, Al-Hilal, which is widely supported club in Riyadh , was established in
1957 and has won thirteen championships in the Saudi Premier League. Al-Nasr
club is another team in the top league has many supporters around the city. It
was established in 1955, and has been named champion of the Saudi League five
times. Another well-known club, Al Shabab, which was established in 1947 and
holds seven championships. There is also Al-Riyadh Club, which was established
in 1954, as well as many other minor clubs. Saudi Arabia
The city also hosts several large stadiums such as King Fahd International Stadium with a seating capacity of 70,000. The stadium hosted the FIFA Confederations Cup three times, in the years 1992, 1995 and 1997. And also the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1989.
city area has a distinctive regional speech pattern called the Najdi dialect.
It is often considered to be one of the most recognizable accents within the
Arabic language. Najdi Arabic is widely spoken in the desert regions of central
and eastern Riyadh .
English is also widely spoken and is understood by many residents of Saudi Arabia . Riyadh
The city is served by a modern major highway system. The main Eastern Ring Road connects the city's south and north, while the Northern Ring Road connects the city's east and west.
King Fahd Road runs through the center of
the city from north to south, in parallel with the East Ring Road. Makkah Road, which
runs east-west across the city's center, connects eastern parts of the city
with the city's main business district and the diplomatic quarters.
Saudi Railway Authority operates two separate passenger and cargo lines between
and Dammam passing through Hofuf, and Haradh. Two future railway projects
connecting Riyadh Riyadh with Jeddah and Mecca in the western region and connecting Riyadh with Buraidah, Ha'il and Northern
Saudi Arabia are underway.
The Saudi Arabian Public Transport Co. (SAPTCO), the national bus system, does not provide public transportation inside the city, but transports passengers to several cities across the kingdom and neighboring countries.
A metro has been approved, with six lines planned.
From Arab News June 2013: Three consortiums are in the running to deliver
new Metro system, according to the High Commission for Riyadh Development
(HCRD). The six-line network (Blue, Green, Red, Riyadh , Yellow and Purple) will contain 85
air-conditioned stations, including main stations Downtown (Qasr Al Hokm) Olaya
and King Abdullah Financial District, which will serve as line intersections.
There will be four other transfer stations and five stations with major
park-and-ride facilities. The winning designs for the main stations from
architects Zaha Hadid, Snohetta and Gerber Architekten has been revealed. Orange