RIYADH: The 2023-2024 Diriyah Season is set to begin on Dec. 12 with a curated three-month calendar of events that combines arts and culture, and live performances and experiences that showcase nearly 600 years of history and heritage.
The season is off to a musically spectacular start with an exceptional lineup of cultural concerts. Tickets for the first cultural concept, featuring the Saudi music legends Rabeh Saqr and Ayed performing in Mayadeen theater, will go on sale on Dec. 10.
This year’s theme honors Diriyah’s story and celebrates Al-Awja in a rallying call for all Saudis to unite and celebrate their shared culture and identity.
The season will be set in five distinct Diriyah locations: Wadi Safar, which will feature a Diriyah cultural basecamp; the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site At-Turaif; Bujairi Terrace; the Mayadeen theater; and Diriyah district.
The season “blends the old with the new and takes us on a journey of self-discovery as we reconnect with our authentic selves. This is not just entertainment; it’s entertainment with meaning,” said Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of Diriyah Gate Development Authority.
“We want people from all over the world to see 300 years of our music, our food, our tents, our costuming, our storytelling, our poetry, our calligraphy,” Inzerillo said.
The Diriyah E-Prix championship, immersive art installations and exhibitions, live and theatrical performances, plus culinary experiences that celebrate both traditional and contemporary cuisine, are also planned for the season.
The Culinary Arts Commission of the Ministry of Culture will present Shetana, an outdoor winter-evening Saudi culinary experience, every day for four weeks at the Mayadeen theater. There will be a theatrical equestrian show and cultural concerts at the theater as well.
Bujairi Terrace, the fine dining destination, will include an expanded return of Layali Diriyah, which sees one of Diriyah’s heritage farms transformed into an open-air illuminated wonderland, showcasing the best of local and international contemporary art, design, cuisine, dance, live music, poetry and theatrical performances.
For the first time, Bujairi Terrace will also feature a themed escape room called “Journey to the Future,” which will test players’ escape skills and explore the Kingdom’s historical narratives.
What is special about the Diriyah escape room is that it will carry a cultural aspect and requires reviewing your cultural and historical information to solve the puzzles at hand.
Ahmad Alnuaisri, Diriyah Company assistant manager of media relations
“The themed escape room is a unique experience. It is an activity that requires one to be a quick thinker, and quick at making decisions and solving puzzles,” said Ahmad Alnuaisri, assistant manager of media relations at Diriyah Company.
“What is special about the Diriyah escape room is that it will carry a cultural aspect and requires reviewing your cultural and historical information to solve the puzzles at hand,” he said.
This season’s events planned for the At-Turaif historic district include poetry pop-ups, workshops, a retrospective, an exhibition, Souq Al-Mawsim, and more.
The At-Turaif retrospective explores and embraces the values of At-Turaif’s continuing influence on the Kingdom while bringing Diriyah’s stories and memories together in a multimedia installation. The “Diriyah Doors” exhibition explores the significance and history of the vividly colored, intricately patterned and engraved doors in Diriyah and Najd.
We want people from all over the world to see 300 years of our music, our food, our tents, our costuming, our storytelling, our poetry, our calligraphy.
Jerry Inzerillo, Diriyah Gate Development Authority CEO
The season, which ends in March, is predicted to strengthen the Kingdom’s tourism sector by bringing in both local and international visitors and generating 178,000 jobs for young Saudis.
“Even though we’re a 2030 project, we opened assets in 2022 including our UNESCO site … we’ve already had 1 million visits,” Inzerillo said.
“And now the numbers are growing, and we’ll have a million people that will visit us … until Ramadan when this Diriyah season concludes,” he said.
The 2023-2024 Diriyah Season is presented by Diriyah Company in partnership with Diriyah Gate Development Authority.