City of Riyadh which is the capital of the kingdom and a deeply rooted historical city is nowadays major international city with its population, utilities, and advanced services in addition to its political, economic, and cultural position. Historically, Riyadh has played prominent role in Najd history over more than three centuries. It was the second Saudi capital at the age of Imam Turki bin Abdullah in 1240H (1824D) and its glory returned to it after King Abdul-Aziz had restored it – may Allah rest his soul- in 5 Shawwal 1319H (15 January 1902D) to start on its land the modern history creation and contemporary civilization texture.
The name of Riyadh (plural of meadow) means a place full of gardens and orchards and its location is known from the past time for being green. There was the ancient city of Hajar which was known as (Khadraa Hajar) and name of Riyadh was given to this city in the twelfth migratory century.
Emergence of Hajar:
The oldest references about the region history on which Riyadh city was established (i.e. 715 B.C.) indicate the existence of Hajar city which remained for many centuries the capital of Yamama region which includes also Al-Aerid, Al-Hawtah, Al-Hariq, Sadir, Al-Mahmal, Al-Kharj, Al-Aflaj, ant etc. The historians say that Hajar city was located bwteen Al-Watar valley which known nowadays in the name of (Bathaa) and Al-Ard valley which known nowadays as Hanifa valley.
Geography and population:
Riyadh is the capital of kingdom of Saudi Arabia and it is in the middle of all of the kingdom regions. It lies in the eastern part of Arab peninsula at 24° 39'latitude and 46° 43' longitude and on a height of (600) meters above sea surface. Its strategic location was the cause of choosing it to be capital of the country and headquarter of the government.
In half a century, Riyadh city made its constructional renaissance to turn from small town surrounded with fences to modern city with an area of 1800 square kilometers. This reflects the great expansion which the city achieves after it went out of its historical fences.
Riyadh is a city having continental climate as the climate is hot and dry in the summer long months and moderate during day and cold during night in the winter short season. As for rain, it is scarce and fall in different places of Riyadh and the rain is accompanied often with wind and storms. April is considered the month with highest amount of rain.
Riyadh city lies in a region far from seas. It has not any lakes or rivers as it lies on Al-Safraa plateau at Najd region which extends towards west in the direction of Tuwaiq mountain chain and towards east to Al-Dahnaa desert belt. The distinctive geographic landmarks at Riyadh city include:
1- Hanifa valley.
2- Al-Bathaa valley.
3- Al-Yasn valley.
4- The small hills at the east.
Riyadh city population increases with very high rate from 1388H as the annual rate is more than (9%) as they were about 300 thousand people at that year. According to population and houses census in 1431H the population are 5.188.286 people. Hence Riyadh city is considered one of the fastest growing cities in the world. The city population is composed of Saudi families with a rate of 65% and non-Saudi families and employment with a rate of 35%. Riyadh city is composed of (162) districts divided according to two factors: area and density of land use. These districts belong to (15) fifteen secondary municipalities covering the constructional range of Riyadh city and all of them follow (Riyadh city secretariat). The municipalities are:
1/ Al-Bathaa 2/ Al-Ganoub 3/ Al-Hayer 4/ Al-Dira 5/ Al-Rawda 6/ Al-Sulai
7/ Al-Shamal 8/ Atika 9/ Arka 10/ Al-Arigaa 11/ Al-Olaya 12/ Al-Mu’zer
13/ Al-Malz 14/ Manfouha 15/ Al-Nasim
And there is Al-Dar’ya historical municipality which lies at the city domain but it became independent governorate.
The great constructional development in the city and the good road networks and dense and safe communications in addition to the modern air transportation have led to creating fast dynamic movement between Riyadh and other cities of the kingdom and with the Arab gulf region and the world. This contributes directly to an increase in the city development in fast and balanced way. From the other side, the development in Riyadh worked on attracting population from inside and outside and this helps in accelerating its development procession.
Water and electricity:
The fast growth of Riyadh city which exceeded in some phases the researchers and planners expectations, motivated the administrative, planning, and service authorities to provide the sufficient water. When king Abdul-Aziz – may Allah rest his soul- Riyadh city, it was covering area less than one square kilometer and its population was not more then 7000 (seven thousand) people. The city population is now more than five million people and its area is about 1800 square kilometers. Therefore water consumption in the city has redoubled during its rapid development. While the city consumption of water was not more than 50000 cubic meters per day in 1388H to cover the needs of 400.000 people living in constructional patch not more than 100 square kilometers, the water consumption reached currently to about 1.4 million cubic meters per day.
One of the main sources of water at Riyadh city is the sea water desalinated from Al-Jubail station at the Arab gulf coast. It is one of the biggest water desalination stations in the world and provides Riyadh city with about 830000 cubic meters of water per day and this constitutes 60% of the city need of drinking water. This is in addition to the deep and shallow wells water which is purified and mixed with the sea desalinated water in a number of stations inside and around the city.
Electricity entered Riyadh city in 1371H / 1951D after the establishment of Riyadh Electricity Company and it began with lighting mosques and palaces. In spite of the modernity of providing electricity to Riyadh city, its production was about 2862 megawatts. At Riyadh city, there are five stations for electricity generation from eight stations belonging to the unified Saudi company at the middle region. One of them is the biggest gaseous station for electricity generation in the world. The sold energy exceeded ten million megawatts / hour.
Means of transportation:
Riyadh city has modern networks of internal roads and streets linked to the different regions of the kingdom across good network of roads and railway line links it to the eastern region. Its international airport provides an opportunity to communicate with the main cities of the kingdom and with all regions of the world. The internal roads in the city are provided with crosses, bridges, tunnels, lights, and safety factors for their users. The main roads in Riyadh include:
1/ main entrances 2/ Riyadh ring road 3/ the many main pivots in the city
King Khalid airport:
King Khalid international airport which was inaugurated by the custodian of the two holy mosques king Fahd bin Abdul-Aziz in 1404H/ 1983D is considered an independent city with its breadth, capabilities, air activity, and appendixes. The airport is located at a distance of (35) kilometer from the city north and extends on an area of (225) square kilometers. A residential city was attached to the airport to accommodate more than two thousand persons of airport employees and their families.
It is equipped to serve (18) million passengers annually. In its design, Arab and Islamic values and features were taken into consideration. The airport mosque is considered prominent location and directly connected to the halls to express the importance and rank represented by it. There is also the (airport hotel) which includes two hundred and fifty rooms.
The gross domestic product of Riyadh is estimated currently with about (60) billion riyals as Riyadh city has witnesses during the past three decades rapid development and change in its economic structure as a result of the changes which occurred in the kingdom economy in general. This is in addition to what this city has of advantages like its rank as the kingdom capital as the kingdom gross domestic product multiplied during this period with more than (20) times. Many factors have contributed to the increase of the economic capabilities of Riyadh city including:
1- Large population growth.
2- Employment opportunities growth.
The governmental sector plays an important role in Riyadh economy and this is shown in the increase of employment rate in the government sector during the past decade. The Saudi private sector contributes with about (40%) of the added value and it is expected to be the basic force of the country economic growth in the near future.
As for the industrial sector, the five-year plans emphasized that the industry became the development pivot in the kingdom. The number of factories in Riyadh city in 1418H (1998D) reached 924 factories with total capitals 25 million riyals and total workers 87 thousands.
At the age of King Abdul-Aziz – may Allah rest his soul -, Riyadh became forum for scholars and thinkers and source of scientific radiation. King Abdul-Aziz was keen on encouraging the establishment of modern schools besides traditional schools and traditional science councils at that time. The fruits of that was the inauguration of the scientific institute in Riyadh in 1370H/ 1950D and the sequence of establishing regular schools and institutions in all fields and specializations after the establishment of ministry of education and then ministry of higher education. The development of schools and institutions in Riyadh was not limited to multiplying numbers of students and learners but it went beyond that to developing techniques and approaches development and updating the pedagogical and educational process and equipping education facilities with the most recent methods and technology in this field. In 1421H there were 545 primary schools, 300 middle schools, 143 high schools, and 48 schools for adults education.
The number of boys schools in public and national education at Riyadh region in 1429/1430H was 2541 schools while the number of girls schools was 2807 schools.
Universities and colleges at Riyadh:
1- King Saud University: It was established in (1377H / 1957D). It is considered the mother university and includes at present (19) colleges and high institutes four of them are outside Riyadh province. The university has a district with complete utilities and services at the western north of the city.
2- Imam Muhammad bin Saud University. It is considered international educational and cultural association established in 1373H / 1953D at the age of king Abdul-Aziz. Integral university city was established for it in 1410H / 1990D and it bears the name of the founder of the first Saudi country the fighter and reformer Imam Muhammad bin Saud – may Allah rest his soul.
3- Military education: Riyadh city includes also the following military colleges:
(a) King Abdul-Aziz military college
(b) King Faisal air force college.
(c) King Khalid College for national guards.
(d) King Fahd Security College.
Riyadh city includes facilities and associations for the advanced health services and many advanced centers for medical researches and many health utilities following ministry of health including:
King Faisal specialist hospital and research centers and King Khalid eye specialist hospital which are considered world-class specialist hospitals. This is in addition to King Abdul-Aziz hospital, king Khalid University hospital, and the hospitals which follow military authorities such as ministry of defense and aviation, National Guard, and ministry of interior.
This is in addition to the health services which follow the private sector of hospitals, dispensaries, polyclinics, and clinics besides the large medical edifice in Riyadh which is King Fahd Medical City.
Riyadh city has distinctive privacy in its cultural heritage and constructional texture. Nowadays, Riyadh leads a prosper cultural life after it was provided with the comprehensive cultural renaissance factors and the advanced associations and utilities which are able to lead the life with its activity manifestations in fields of thought, literature, culture, and arts. Riyadh city has landmarks embodying this city originality and antiquity like the wall which was built around the city to protect it in 1116H / 1704D and what it includes of towers, gates, Manfouha region, governance palace at middle of Riyadh, archeological landmarks in Dar’ya and other places besides Al-Musmak fort which witnesses King Abdul-Aziz entry at the dawn of 5 Shawwal 1319H to start from it the great epic to unify most parts of Arab Peninsula under the leadership of king Abdul-Aziz. In addition to its historical value, Al-Musmak represents architectural heritage embodying the classical architecture of the region.
King Abdul-Aziz historical center:
Within the domain of celebrating the kingdom establishment first centenary in Shawwal 1419H (1999D), the custodian of the two holy mosques inaugurated this new landmark which considered prominent addition to the constructional and cultural elements of Riyadh city. On an area of 375 thousand square meters around (Al-Muraba’ palace) and the heritage buildings near it, there was the establishment of the large center which consists of the public park that includes five gardens, main square, halls and pedestrians ways, the national museum which displays the Saudi country history and monuments since its emergence and some aspects of the Arab Peninsula history, AL-Muraba’ historical palace which was restored and renovated, new place for king Abdul-Aziz villa including king Abdul-Aziz historical hall, library, and villa magazine, king Abdul-Aziz mosque which became able to accommodate five thousand prayers, new headquarter for king Abdul-Aziz public library, king Abdul-Aziz lectures hall, some muddy buildings as models of the heritage constructional texture, and parks with a capacity of 1100 cars (one thousand and one hundred cars).
The regional and international associations centers at Riyadh:
Many regional and international associations’ centers gather in Riyadh city such as: The general secretariat of the cooperation council for the Arab states of the gulf, Arab bureau of education for the Gulf States, United Nations Development Program, Arab center for security studies and training, The international organization for international communications, World Health Organization bureau, UNICEF regional bureau, World bank branch, bureau of International food and agriculture organization, regional bureau of the middle east blinds committee, gulf association center, gulf television, Sports Arab league – Arab Olympiad committee, Arab institute for cities development following Arab countries organization.