CITY GUIDE: Welcome to Diriyah

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CITY GUIDE: Welcome to Diriyah

Welcome back to the historic town of Diriyah in Saudi Arabia's capital city Riyadh. With Rounds 2 & 3 of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship set to take place on 27 & 28 January, here's everything you need to know about the Middle Eastern host city ahead of the ultimate duel in the desert.

Diriyah historic

Regal surroundings 

In 1744, Diriyah was named the capital and original seat of power for the Kingdom’s Al Saud family, when the First Saudi State (or Emirate of Diriyah) was formed just a year earlier. The House of Saud continues to be the ruling royal family of modern Saudi Arabia and grew from this original 1744 state as descendents of Muhammad Bin Saud. The present Saudi Arabia was founded on September 23 1932, unofficially referred to as the Third Saudi State.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know ahead of the CORE Diriyah E-Prix

Diriyah was the first home of the Saudi royal family and the Al-Turaif District was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, The historic city is a suburb of the modern-day capital Riyadh – translating as The Gardens. It's the largest city in Saudi Arabia, with more than 7.5 million people in the local metropolitan area.

saudi flag

The location is also home to one of the largest flags and flagpoles in the world at 100 metres (328ft) in height and with a flag measuring 30x18 metres, which the racetrack passes this weekend.

The lie of the land

Diriyah is located centrally within the country and is more than 600 metres (2,000ft) above sea level. Mexico City is the only venue at a higher altitude on the Formula E calendar.

Hosting the race in the Northern Hemisphere winter time is a must. The average high temperature in Riyadh is 20C (68F) in January, whereas the average high is never lower than 40C (103F) between May and September. The official climate classification in the region is the same as the Australian outback and the deserts of Arizona and Death Valley in California.

Rich history

Ad Diriyah is where the Expedition of Muhamma bin Maslamah took place in July 627 AD, in the era of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Its foundation was part of a movement to unite the Arabian Peninsula and free it from the control of the Ottoman Empire. 

Diriyah history

Once home to a thriving desert city that was a powerhouse of culture and commerce, Diriyah was a crossroads for pilgrims and traders until the city fell in 1818, giving way to modern Riyadh. 

Significant streets

The old town - marked by the ruins of At-Turaif - was designated as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, and the area has since been the subject of a restoration plan aimed at bringing its historical legacy back to life. With much of the site making up the backdrop of the race, Diriyah throws up a unique, historical take on city street racing.

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Light it up

Formula E's first night races were held at the Diriyah Street Circuit back in Season 7. This weekend, the third double-header and races 102 and 103 in Formula E history take place at the suburb of the Saudi capital city of Riyadh.

Diriyah night

The latest low consumption LED technology will light up the circuit for the night races, with the required energy for the lighting (and the rest of the event) coming from a fully renewable source, in the form of high performing low-carbon certified hydrogenated vegetable oil and biodiesel.