What You Need To Know

Riyadh  is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province, and belongs to the historical regions of Najdand Al-Yamama. It is situated in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, and is home to 7.3 million people, and the urban centre of a region with a population of close to 9 million people. The city is divided into 15 municipal districts, managed by Riyadh Municipality headed by the mayor of Riyadh, and the Riyadh Development Authority, chaired by the governor of Riyadh Province, Faisal bin Bandar Al Saud. The current mayor of Riyadh is Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Almogbel, appointed in 2012. It has been designated a global city.

Area: 1,554 km²

Population: 8,097,300

 

Currency

  • The Euro is the official currency of Saudi riyal and Riyadh.

Language

Arabic is the official language of Saudi Arabia, but English is widely spoken. It is used in business and is a compulsory second language in schools.

Landmarks and architecture

Vernacular architecture of Old Riyadh

The old town of Riyadh within the city walls did not exceed an area of 1 km2, and therefore very few significant architectural remnants of the original walled oasis town of Riyadh 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, but they are for the most part dilapidated. Expansion outside the city walls was slow to begin with, although there were some smaller oases and settlements surrounding Riyadh. The first major construction beyond the walls was King Abdulaziz’s Murabba Palace. 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”. There are other traditional villages and towns in the area around traditional Riyadh which the urban sprawl reached and currently encompasses. These include Diriyah, Manfuha and Wadi Laban. Unlike in the early days of development in Riyadh 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.

Health

  • The health care system in Saudi Arabia can be classified as a national health care system in which the government provides health care services through a number of government agencies. In the meantime, there is a growing role and increased participation from the private sector in the provision of health care services.

Transport

Airport

King Khalid International Airport, orthorectified satellite image Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport (KKIA), located 35 kilometers north from the city center, is the city’s main airport, and serves over 17 million passengers a year. Plans are being made to expand the airport to accommodate for 35 million passengers, given that the airport was only built for 12 million passengers annually.but new airport is on the table.It is one of the largest airports of the world.

Roads

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 centre, connects eastern parts of the city with the city’s main business district and the diplomatic quarters.

Railways and metro

Saudi Railway Authority operates two separate passenger and cargo lines between Riyadh and Dammam passing through Hofuf, and Haradh. Two future railway projects, connecting Riyadh with Jeddah and Mecca in the western region, and connecting Riyadh with Buraidah, Ha’il and Northern Saudi Arabia are underway. A metro has also been approved, with six lines planned with scheduled opening in 2019.

Buses

The metro system will be integrated with a 85 kilometres (53 mi) three line bus rapid transit (BRT) network. The main charter bus company in the kingdom, known as the Saudi Public Transport Company (SAPTCO), offers trips both within the kingdom and to its Neighboring countries, including Egypt (via ferries from Safaga or Nuweiba) and Arab states of the Persian Gulf.

Weather

Classified as having a hot desert climate, temperatures during the summer months are extremely hot. The average high temperature in August is 43.6 °C. Winters are warm with cool, windy nights. The overall climate is arid, and the city experiences very little rainfall, especially in summer, but receives a fair amount of rain in March and April. It is also known to have dust storms during which the dust can be so thick that visibility is under 10 m (33 ft). On 1 and 2 April 2015, a massive dust storm hit Riyadh, causing suspension of classes in many schools in the area and cancellation of hundreds of flights, both domestic and international.

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