|• Mayor||Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman Al Mogbel|
|• Provincial Emir||Khalid bin Bandar Al Saud|
|• Urban||1,000 km2 (400 sq mi)|
|• Metro||1,815 km2 (701 sq mi)|
|Elevation||612 m (2,008 ft)|
|Time zone||EAT (UTC+3)|
|• Summer (DST)||EAT (UTC+3)|
|Postal Code||(5 digits)|
Riyadh (//; Arabic: الرياض ar-Riyāḍ pronounced [arriˈjɑːdˤ],"The Gardens") is the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia. It is also the capital of Riyadh Province, and belongs to the historical regions of Najd and Al-Yamama. It is situated in the center of the Arabian Peninsula on a large plateau, and is home to 5,254,560 people, and the urban center of a region with a population of close to 7 million people.
The city is divided into 15 municipal districts, managed by Riyadh Municipality headed by the mayor of Riyadh, and the Riyadh Development Authority, chaired by the governor of Riyadh Province, Khalid bin Bandar Al Saud. The current mayor of Riyadh is Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman Al Mogbel, appointed in 2012. Riyadh has the largest all female university in the world, the Princess Nora bint Abdulrahman University. It has been designated as a Beta World City.
During the Pre-Islamic era the settlement at the site was called Hajr (Arabic: حجر), and was reportedly founded by the tribe of Banu Hanifa. Hajr served as the capital of the province of Al Yamamah, whose governors were responsible for most of central and eastern Arabia during the Umayyad and Abbasid eras. Al-Yamamah broke away from the Abbasid Empire in 866 and the area fell under the rule of the Ukhaydhirites, who moved the capital from Hajr to nearby Al Kharj. The city then went into a long period of decline. In the 14th century, North African traveller Ibn Battuta wrote of his visit to Hajr, describing it as "the main city of Al-Yamamah, and its name is Hajr". Ibn Battuta goes on to describe it as a city of canals and trees with most of its inhabitants belonging to Bani Hanifa, and reports that he continued on with their leader to Mecca to perform the Hajj.
Later on, Hajr broke up into several separate settlements and estates. The most notable of these were Migrin (or Muqrin) and Mi'kal, though the name Hajr continued to appear in local folk poetry. The earliest known reference to the area by the name Riyadh comes from a 17th-century chronicler reporting on an event from the year 1590. In 1737, Deham ibn Dawwas, a refugee from neighboring Manfuha, took control of Riyadh. Ibn Dawwas built a single wall to encircle the various quarters of Riyadh, making them effectively a single town.
The three Saudi states
In 1744, Muhammad ibn Abdel Wahhab formed an alliance with Muhammad ibn Saud, the ruler of the nearby town of Diriyah. Ibn Saud then set out to conquer the surrounding region with the goal of bringing it under the rule of a single Islamic state. Ibn Dawwas of Riyadh led the most determined resistance, allied with forces from Al Kharj, Al Ahsa, and the Banu Yam clan of Najran. However, Ibn Dawwas fled and Riyadh capitulated to the Saudis in 1774, ending long years of wars, and leading to the declaration of the First Saudi State, with Riyadh as its capital.
The First Saudi State was destroyed by forces sent by Muhammad Ali of Egypt, acting on behalf of the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman forces razed the Saudi capital Diriyah in 1818. In 1823, Turki ibn Abdallah, the founder of the Second Saudi State, revived the state and chose Riyadh as the new capital. Internecine struggles between Turki's grandsons led to the fall of the Second Saudi State in 1891 at the hand of the rival Al Rashid clan, who ruled from the northern city of Ha'il. Riyadh itself fell under the rule of Al Rashid in 1865; the al-Masmak fort dates from that period.
From the 1940s, Riyadh "mushroomed" from a relatively narrow, spatially isolated town into a spacious metropolis. When King Saud came to power, he made it his objective to modernize Riyadh, and began developing Annasriyyah, the royal residential district in 1950. Following the example of American cities, new settlements and entire neighborhoods were created in grid-like squares of a chess board created and connected by high-performance main roads to the inner areas. The grid pattern in the city was introduced in 1953. The population growth of the town from 1974-1992 averaged 8.2 percent per year.
Since the 1990s there has been a series of terrorist attacks on locals and foreigners as well as protests against the royal family. On 13 November 1995 a car bomb which detonated outside a classroom building of the Saudi National Guard left six dead, and injured over 60 people. On 12 May 2003 34 people died in a suicide attack targeting American civilians. On 8 November 2003, a suicide truck bomb attack in the Muhiya residential area with Saudis and Arab foreigners was responsible for killing 18 and injuring 122 people. al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attacks. On 23 June 2006, Saudi security forces stormed a suspected hideout of al-Qaeda in the neighborhood of al-Nakhil; a bloody battle ensued during which six extremists and a policeman were killed. The current mayor of Riyadh is Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman Al Mogbel, an experienced transport official, appointed in 2012.
Geography and climate
Riyadh is divided into 15 branch municipalities, in addition to the Diplomatic Quarter. Each branch municipality in turn contains several districts, amounting to over 130 in total, though some districts are divided between more than one branch municipality. The branch municipalities are Al-Shemaysi, Irqah, Al-Ma'athar, Al-Olayya, Al-Aziziyya, Al-Malaz, Al-Selayy, Nemar, Al-Neseem, Al-Shifa, Al-'Urayja, Al-Bat'ha, Al-Ha'ir, Al-Rawdha, and Al-Shimal ("the North"). Olaya District is the commercial heart of the city, with accommodation, entertainment, dining and shopping options. The Kingdom Center, Al Faisalyah and Al-Tahlya Street are the area's most prominent landmarks. The centre of the city, Al-Bathaa and Al-Dirah, is also its oldest part.
Some of the main districts of Riyadh are:
Classified as having a hot desert climate (Köppen: BWh), temperatures during the summer months are extremely hot, approaching 50 °C (122 °F) occasionally. The average high temperature in July is 44 °C (111 °F). Winters are warm with cold, windy nights. The overall climate is arid, and the city experiences very little rainfall, especially in summer, but receives a fair amount of rain in March and April. It is also known to have many dust storms. The dust is often so thick that visibility is under 10 m (33 ft).
|Climate data for Riyadh|
|Record high °C (°F)||31.5
|Average high °C (°F)||20.1
|Daily mean °C (°F)||14.4
|Average low °C (°F)||6.9
|Record low °C (°F)||−2
|Rainfall mm (inches)||11.7
|Avg. precipitation days||5.8||4.8||9.8||9.0||3.5||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||1.2||3.4||6.3||45.2|
|Source: Census data|
The population of the city was 40,000 in 1935 and 83,000 in 1949. The city has experienced very high rates of population growth, from 150,000 inhabitants in the 1960s to over 5 million, according to the most recent sources.
Football is the most popular sport in Riyadh. The city hosts four major football clubs, Al-Hilal, which is widely supported club in Saudi Arabia, was established in 1957 and has won thirteen championships in the Saudi Premier League. Al-Nasr club is another team in the top league has many supporters around the city. It was established in 1955, and has been named champion of the Saudi League five times. Another well-known club, Al Shabab, which was established in 1947 and holds seven championships. There is also Al-Riyadh Club, which was established in 1954, as well as many other minor clubs.
The city also hosts several large stadiums such as King Fahd International Stadium with a seating capacity of 70,000. The stadium hosted the FIFA Confederations Cup three times, in the years 1992, 1995 and 1997. And also the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1989.
Riyadh's King Khalid International Airport (IATA: RUH), located 35 kilometers north from the city center, is the city's main airport, and serves over 17 million passengers a year. Plans are being made to expand the airport to accommodate for 35 million passengers, given that the airport was only built for 12 million passengers annually.
The city is served by a modern major highway system. The main Eastern Ring Road connects the city's south and north, while the Northern Ring Road connects the city's east and west. King Fahd Road runs through the center of the city from north to south,  in parallel with the East Ring Road. Makkah Road, which runs east-west across the city's center, connects eastern parts of the city with the city's main business district and the diplomatic quarters. Saudi Railway Authority operates two separate passenger and cargo lines between Riyadh and Dammam passing through Hofuf, and Haradh. Two future railway projects connecting Riyadh with Jeddah and Mecca in the western region and connecting Riyadh with Buraidah, Ha'il and Northern Saudi Arabia are underway. A metro has also been approved, with six lines planned.
The 170 m (560 ft) Riyadh TV Tower, operated by the Ministry of Information, was built between 1978 and 1981. National Saudi television channels Saudi TV1, Saudi TV2, Saudi TV Sports, Al-Ekhbariya, ART channels network operate from here. Television broadcasts are mainly in Arabic, although some radio broadcasts are in English or French. Arabic is the main language used in television and radio but radio broadcasts are also made in different languages such as Urdu, French, or English. Riyadh has four Arabic newspapers; Asharq Al-Awsat (which is owned by the city governor), Al-Riyadh, Al-Jazeera and Al-Watan, two English language newspapers; Saudi Gazette and Arab News, and one Malayalam language newspaper, Gulf Madhyamam.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Riyadh.|
- Official website
- A city portal of Riyadh
- Saudi Arabian Information Resource
- Riyadh travel guide from Wikivoyage