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AD-DIR’IYAH is one of the Oases of WADI HANIFA, which refers to the name of the tribe to which the Royal Family of AL SAUD is related. Oases have been a focus of human settlement since the earliest of times.

Rich scenic natural features such as gullies, gorges and fertile areas of pasture distinguish AD-DIR’IYAH. This demonstrates the underlying relationship between material expressions of human culture expressed through settlement design and architecture and environmental features. Here the dwellings are set on the banks of the wadi, and branching in between its curves are irrigation systems, natural channels and tunnels that feed the agricultural villages which enrich the geographical surroundings of AD-DIR’IYAH into a rural idyll.

  AD-DIR’IYAH may be named after IBN DERA, the governor of the ancient kingdom of YAMAMAH, or it may be named after the village where AL SAUD family came from in the eastern side of Arabia, They AL SAUDS settled in the area between GHASEEBAH and MULAIBEED. The arrival of their ancestor, MANEA AL MURIDI, in 1446 A.D (850 Hijri), is considered to be the date of establishment of AD-DIR’IYAH.

AD-DIR’IYAH soon took a prime position on the pilgrimage route to MAKKAH AL MUKARAMAH. It took over and consolidated a number of villages in WADI HANIFA. The ruler IMAM MOHAMMAD BIN SAUD, the founder of the First Saudi State [from 1788 A.D (1157 Hijri) to 1818 A.D (1233 Hijri)], adopted the call of SHAIKH MOHAMMAD BIN ABDULWAHAB, and led the rise of the Islamic Revival Movement in the area. This opened a new page in the history of AD-DIR’IYAH, radiating the message of reform, and accomplishing numerous achievements. AD-DIR’IYAH’S political and military stature grew. Merchants were attracted to its markets and there was an increase in the economy and trade. There was a concomitant growth in education and AD-DIR’IYAH became a beacon for scholars.

The IMAMS of the first Saudi State were famed for their knowledge, fairness, determination, submission to religious values, and their firm grip on the spirit of Islamic belief, customs, and virtuous traditions. They secured peace, allowing the inhabitants to live in security, knowing their lives and positions were safe. Soon great portions of Arabian Peninsula came under the power of AD-DIR’IYAH.

AD-DIR’IYAH continued to be the most prominent city in WADI HANIFA during the 18th and 19th centuries (12th and 13th centuries Hijri), and it withstood even the onslaught of the Ottoman Army who tried to destroy it in 1818 A.D (1233 Hijri).

The current Government is very concerned with the preservation of Historic AD-DIR’IYAH. This is shown by the recent issuing of a Royal Decree (M/528) dated (17/6/1429 Hijri). As a result of this, the ARRIYADH DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (ADA) has undertaken the task of developing AD-DIR’IYAH through a Higher Committee headed by His Royal Highness Prince SALMAN BIN ABDULAZIZ AL SAUD. This Committee includes a number of officials from designated authorities.

  The AD-DIR’IYAH DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM includes villages and districts located on the eastern bank of WADI HANIFA, including GHASSIBAH, AZZUHRAH, AZZUWAIHRA, ALBIJAIRI, and ALMULAIBEED. This is in addition to the districts located on the west bank, such as the AT-TURAIF district and the connecting gorges and gullies of WADI HANIFA. The work is being conducted through ongoing cooperation between the ARRIYADH DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, THE SAUDI COMMISSION FOR TOURISM AND ANTIQUITIES, and the AD-DIR’IYAH Governorate and Municipality.

The care extended by the Saudi Government to Historic AD-DIR’IYAH is demonstrated by a Royal Decree (MB/5455) dated (19/7/1427 Hijri) that commissioned SCTA with the task of registering the AT-TURIAF district in AD-DIR’IYAH within the list of the World Heritage Sites of the UNESCO. On October 16, 2006 (24/9/1427 Hijri) SCTA presented the site of AT-TURAIF district within its initial list for sites to UNESCO’S WHL. SCTA submitted the nomination file prepared according to the requirements of the WHC, and expects the Committee to discuss the nomination file in the meeting of WHC in 2010.

The SCTA provided the nomination file in the district of Historic AD-DIR’IYAH for registration in the UNESCO World Heritage List in Muharram 1430 - January 2009