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Diriyah giga-project to open first hotel in November

An extension of Diriyah's Bujairi Terrace, a popular nightspot, will open in November Alamy via Reuters
An extension of Diriyah's Bujairi Terrace, a popular nightspot, will open in November
  • Parks and art museum also ready
  • Building of more hotels to start
  • 90 UK companies contracted

Diriyah, one of Saudi Arabia’s leading giga-projects, will finally open its first hotel in November along with other attractions and sites, its CEO said this week. 

“This November we’ll open another few kilometres of parks, we’ll open our first Bab Samhan hotel, we’ll open our first museum which is the Diriyah Art Futures Museum, we’ll ground break on over a dozen hotels. So we’ve got a lot of things happening,” Jerry Inzerillo told Asharq TV on Wednesday. 

He said an extension to the Bujairi Terrace – a popular nightspot with restaurants – would also open in November. Bab Samhan, Diriyah’s first hotel, was initially due to open earlier this year.

Doubts have arisen about the future of some of the massive projects at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s economic transformation plan, after the government said in December some could be subject to delays. 

Neom revealed in March that its 170km-long horizontal city The Line would open in 2030 at less than 5km in length. 

The Saudi economy contracted 0.8 percent in 2023 and now faces three years of budget deficits as oil output cuts struggle to push oil prices close to the country’s breakeven oil price. 

High US interest rates have raised the cost of borrowing for the projects. 

Diriyah is one of the most expensive projects, valued by the real estate consultancy Knight Frank at $63 billion. But it is also one of the most prestigious, encompassing the Al-Turaif Unesco World Heritage Site, where the Al Saud family first established a state in 1727. 

Speaking on the sidelines of a British trade exhibition in Riyadh, Inzerillo said Diriyah has awarded over 90 British companies contracts worth more than SAR940 million riyals ($251 million). 

“We’re dealing with engineering, agricultural, design, technology companies, a lot of different companies from the United Kingdom,” he said, pointing to British design houses Zaha Hadid Architects and Foster + Partners, which is also designing a new Riyadh airport

He said Foster + Partners is designing a number of buildings in Wadi Safar, an ultra-rich sports and residential area that is part of Diriyah. 

Western governments are trying to raise their share of contracts, while the kingdom is trying to attract foreign direct investment for the giga-projects, which remains far below a targeted $100 billion per year by 2030. 

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