7 Interesting Facts about Riyadh

Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia and a leading global city, is a striking mix of modern and old, for example, towering skyscrapers and clay forts. With a diverse population comprised of many nationalities, for instance, there are many people from India and Pakistan, the city is a wonderful melting pot of cultures. If you are curious to learn more, keep reading because here are some of the most interesting facts about Riyadh.

7 interesting facts about Riyadh

1. Riyadh is the capital of Saudi Arabia

Riyadh is the capital city of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the largest city on the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabian Peninsula is a peninsula of Western Asia and the largest peninsula in the world. The peninsula’s constituent countries are Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia.

interesting facts about Riyadh

2. Riyadh has a diverse population

As of April 2022, the population of the city is 7,538,200, which is one-sixth of the population of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Experts estimate that up to 40 per cent of the city’s population comprises non-Saudi residents. Indians and Pakistanis make up the two biggest groups of non-Saudis living in Riyadh.

3. Riyadh’s tallest skyscraper has a hole in it

Riyadh is home to the Kingdom Centre, a 41-storey building that soars 302.3 meters (991.79 ft) above the city skyline. When opened in 2002, it was the tallest building in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Today, however, other buildings have surpassed it and it is now the fifth-tallest skyscraper in the country. It is also the world’s third-tallest building with a hole in it – both the Shanghai World Financial Center and the 85 Sky Tower in Taiwan are taller.

interesting facts about Riyadh

4. The oldest university in Saudi Arabia is in Riyadh

King Saud bin Abdulaziz founded Riyadh University in 1957, however, it now goes by the name King Saud University. It is the oldest university in Saudi Arabia and home to some impressive buildings, for instance, the King Salman Central library. This is a seven-floor building with more than 4,000 seats and a vast collection, for example, it has books, periodicals, manuscripts, government publications, academic theses, and dissertations, press clippings, audio-visual and electronic media.

interesting facts about Riyadh

5. Riyadh is a global city

Riyadh is a global city, with the nickname of the money capital of the Middle East. What this means is that it is a city that plays an important role in the global economic system. Of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Riyadh is the city with the largest population and the region’s fourth-most global city. In Riyadh, you’ll find around 110 embassies and consulates and the headquarters of several international and regional organisations, most significantly the GCC itself.

interesting facts about Riyadh

6. The history of Riyadh dates back several centuries

The Banu Hanifa settled here as early as the third century AD and called it Hajr. It was the capital of the province Al Yamaah. Riyadh didn’t become the capital of the country until 1823. The kingdom was at first a poor desert state until they discovered vast oil reserves in 1938 near the Persian Gulf. Since then, Saudi Arabia has become a very wealthy country. In fact, by 1976, the country was the largest oil exporter in the world.

7. In Riyadh you’ll find a fort from the 1800s

The Masmak Fort is a clay and mudbrick fort in ad-Dirah, a district in southern Riyadh. Emirate of Jabal Shammar ordered the construction of the fort in 1865 for prince Abdurrahman ibn Sulaiman AlDabaan. The fort stands as a proud reminder of Saudi Arabia’s storied history. In 1902, after living in exile in Kuwait, King Abdulaziz captured the fortress and took control of Riyadh, which was his ancestral home. From Masmak Fort, the king conquered and united the different kingdoms and provinces, for instance, the two kingdoms of the Hejaz and Najd, that make up modern-day Saudi Arabia. Today, the restored building is a museum that houses wonderful exhibitions and artefacts, for example, maps and photographs of Saudi Arabia dating from 1912 to 1937.

By Francisco Anzola – Masmak Fort, CC BY 2.0
Melanie May

Melanie is an intrepid solo traveller, endlessly curious about people, places and food. She is a fan of slow travel and loves exploring the world by mouth, discovering a culture through its food. Having backpacked her way around the world she turned her wanderlust into a career and is now a full-time travel writer.

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