The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) is preparing to undertake the first phase of a major overhaul of the National Museum in Riyadh under plans to establish a wider network of historical attractions.
The project, described as one of the world’s most advanced, aims to reposition the attraction through the recreation of existing exhibits and a variety of new experiences and services, according to state-run Saudi Press Agency.
These include galleries, theatres, restaurants, training centres, recreation and educational facilities and the latest in interactive technology.
A four-star heritage hotel is also planned at the site, which forms part of the kingdom’s wider efforts to boost its tourism industry and encourage Saudis to spend their money at home.
Other plans announced over the last year include the development of a stretch of 50 islands on the Red Sea coast into resorts and the establishment of a series of entertainment centres.
Under a decree issued by SCTH chairman Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, a board of trustees will be formed to oversee the master plans for the museum project and its transformation into an independent institution.
Work is due to begin in the next two months.
The authority is also seeking to establish “an advanced system of regional museums”.
“What we do today, after all these years, is to restore to this important landmark its glamour and splendour and develop a gift from us to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and to fulfill his pioneering initiative to create this museum in a unique period and with unique architectural standard,” the SCTH chairman said.
Work is being undertaken in cooperation with Riyadh Development Authority and Riyadh governor Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz.
When finished, the updated museum is hoped to boost visitor numbers, maintain Saudi Arabia’s national heritage among new generations and attract investment.
The current plans include a 13,000sqm hotel, 3,767sqm exhibition hall, 6,476sqm dining area and 2,285sqm theatre. Najdah-inspired architecture, a glass roof space and three underground floors are included in the design.
SCTH is also working with the Metropolitan Museum of New York, the Smithsonian Institute and its Washington Museum Series, the San Francisco Art Museum, the Louvre Museum in Paris and the British Museum In London on training programmes.