At-Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyah

 Saudi Arabia
N24 44 2.88 E46 34 20.88
Date of Inscription: 2010
Criteria: (iv)(v)(vi)
Property : 28.78 ha
Buffer zone: 237.95 ha
Ref: 1329
News Links/Travelogues: Saudi Arabia;

This property was the first capital of the Saudi Dynasty, in the heart of the Arabian Penisula, north-west of Riyadh. Founded in the 15th century, it bears witness to the Najdi architectural style, which is specific to the centre of the Arabian peninsula. In the 18th and early 19th century, its political and religious role increased, and the citadel at at-Turaif became the centre of the temporal power of the House of Saud and the spread of the Salafiyya reform inside the Muslim religion. The property includes the remains of many palaces and an urban ensemble built on the edge of the ad-Dir’iyah oasis.

Brief synthesis

The At-Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyah was the first capital of the Saudi Dynasty, in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, north-west of Riyadh. Founded in the 15th century, it bears witness to the Najdi architectural style, which is specific to the centre of the Arabian Peninsula. In the 18th and the early 19th century, its regional political and religious role increased, and the citadel of at-Turaif became the centre of the temporal power of the House of Saud and the spread of the Islamic reform movement in Arabia, Salafiyya. The property includes the remains of many palaces and an urban ensemble built on the edge of the ad-Dir’iyah oasis.

Criterion (iv): The citadel of at-Turaif is representative of a diversified and fortified urban ensemble within an oasis. It comprises many palaces and is an outstanding example of the Najdi architectural and decorative style characteristic of the centre of the Arabian Peninsula.  It bears witness to a building method that is well adapted to its environment, to the use of adobe in major palatial complexes, along with a remarkable sense of geometrical decoration.

Criterion (v): The site of at-Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyah illustrates a significant phase in the human settlement of the central Arabian plateau, when in the mid-18th century Ad-Dir’iyah became the capital of an independent Arab State and an important religious centre. At-Turaif District in Ad-Dir’iyah is an outstanding example of traditional human settlement in a desert environment.

Criterion (vi): The At-Turaif District was the first historic centre with a unifying power in the Arabian Peninsula.  Its influence was greatly strengthened by the teachings of Sheikh Mohammad Bin Abdul Wahhab, a great reformer of Sunni Islam who lived, preached and died in the city. After his enduring alliance with the Saudi Dynasty, in the middle of the 18th century, it is from ad-Dir’iyah that the message of Salafiyya spread throughout the Arabian Peninsula and the Muslim world.

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