The founding of the present city began with the arrival of Mani Al-Meredi, an ancestor of the Saudi royal family, in 850 AH/1446 CE. In a short time, Al-Dir’iya became an important station along the trade roads linking the Arabian Peninsula from west to east, in addition to being a way station along the pilgrimage route to Makkah.
Al-Dir’iya emerged as the capital of the first Saudi State, constituting a turning point in the history of the Arabian Peninsula, when young Al-Imam Mohammed bin Saud supported the call of the religious scholar and reformer Mohammed bin Abdul Wahab in 1157 AH/1744CE. It remained the capital of the First Saudi State until Imam Turki bin Abdullah shifted the new headquarters of his government to Riyadh in 1240 AH/1824 CE.
Al-Turaif neighborhood is considered one of the most important landmarks in the historic Al-Dir’iya since it is home to some of the most important archaeological buildings, palaces and historical monuments in the Kingdom. In 2010, it became one of Saudi Arabia’s four registered sites in the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List.
The neighborhood includes many administrative buildings of the first Saudi State, such as Salwa Palace, which is believed to have been completed by Saud bin Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud, who was imam from 1803 to 1814; the Imam Mohammed bin Saud Mosque; the Saad bin Saud Palace; the Nasir bin Saud Palace; and a traditional guesthouse which consists of Turaif Hamam (bath).
On Oct. 8, 1998, Royal Decree No. (m/528) was issued approving Ar-Riyadh Development Authority (ADA) to undertake the development of Al-Dir’iya. This project provides a successful model of partnership approach between the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) and the ADA.
Al-Dir’iya is a historic oasis located along the banks of Wadi Hanifa on the outskirts of Riyadh. It is distinguished by its stunning natural landscapes, streams and fertile lands, and a topography that contributed to local people’s cultural expertise in architecture as reflected in the construction of their dwellings, agricultural villages and the irrigation network in its neighborhood.