The capital city of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is one of the largest metropolitan cities in the MENA region. Its landmarks include the iconic 302m high Kingdom Centre, which includes a sky bridge connecting its two towers, and Wadi Hanifa, a park and nature reserve measuring 80 km.
Riyadh is home to the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the country’s sovereign wealth fund, which is focused on diversifying the economy’s revenues away from oil by investing in mega-scale construction projects.
Following the announcement of Saudi Vision 2030 in 2016, several initiatives have been launched to change the perception of the Kingdom’s capital from a pure business centre to a more tourist friendly destination. The Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage (SCTH) is contributing to the growth of the tourism sector and is investing more in the development of museums and archaeological sites around Riyadh.
The drive to expand the city’s appeal as a tourist destination started with the relaxation of laws with regards to entertainment, leading to the opening of Riyadh’s first cinema in 35 years. The premiere movie screening took place in April 2018 at the exhibition centre in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD).
Real estate developers are keen to base new projects in the space around Riyadh in the middle of the Arabian Peninsula, ranging from multi-purpose master developers to hotel operators planning to seize new opportunities on offer in the Kingdom. Notable examples include Qiddiya, a project that is located 40 km from the centre of Riyadh that covers a total area of 334 sq km.
Historically, the residential supply in Riyadh focussed on villas, catering to the preferences of the local market. However, given the increased demand for affordable units, the city is experiencing a shift in its product mix offering. Going forward, the contribution of vertical accommodation is expected to increase.