“The thriving capital at the heart of the modern Kingdom”
Riyadh’s original settlement was its potential cultivation hence its name al-riyadh, “the gardens”. Situated in the heart of central Najd, on a sedimentary plateau 600 meters above sea level. It has a very dry climate and rainfall, but a good underground water supply makes it one of the few natural Fertile areas in the Kingdom outside the south-west. It’s recovery by Abdul Aziz marked a turning-point in Saudi fortunes. It’s governmental role forever transformed the city.
Riyadh Development Authority utilized a computerized urban intelligence system for mapping, planning and anticipating in demography. In those days it was still a city in search of it’s proper identity. But vigorous and coordinated planning and architectural control told in the end and finally shaped the city. Planner’s and architect’s alike created an elegant and efficient modern capital whose characteristics both in concept and detail recalled Riyadh’s history.
The successful transformation of a traditional sedentary and nomadic society into a modern urban one finds no more effective example than in Riyadh today.
As the capital, Riyadh has come to it’s own. It is no longer the “secret city” to which intrepid nineteenth century travelers journeyed. It has its own radio television production complex, satellite telecommunications facilities, the largest and most modern university campus in the Kingdom, colleges, schools, hospitals, clinics and specialist health care centers. The 170 meter television transformation tower at the Ministry of Information is major landmark of the city. The conference Palace in Al Nasiriyah is the largest in the middle east.
In 1983 commercial traffic was transferred to the new King Khalid International Airport. Among the world’s largest. It is designed to cater for 15 million passengers by the year 2000, and its air cargo facilities are the most modern in the Middle East, able to handle 140,000 tonnes of cargo per year. Traffic systems include a 93 kilometer, six-lane road which gridles the city and links it to the inter-peninsula high-ways have put an end to Riyadh’s traditional isolation.
As an important world capital, Riyadh receives an annual stream of heads of state and public figures form the Western, Arab, Islamic and developing countries further underlining the city’s increasingly pivotal role in Arab affairs generally.