| 1,300 km2 || Faisal bin Bandar Al Saud|
Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Almogbel
4.087 million (2004)
| Masmak fort, National Museum of Saudi Arabia, Royal Saudi Air Force Museum, Jawatha Mosque, Jabal al-Lawz|
Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University, King Saud University, Princess Nora bint Abdul Rahman University, Riyadh College of Technology, Saudi Electronic University
Riyadh ("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 5.7 million people, and the urban centre of a region with a population of close to 7.3 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, Faisal bin Bandar Al Saud. The current mayor of Riyadh is Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Almogbel, 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 Global City.
During the Pre-Islamic era the city at the site was called Hajr (Arabic: ?), 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 Mikal, 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.
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-Maathar, Al-Olayya, Al-Aziziyya, Al-Malaz, Al-Selayy, Nemar, Al-Neseem, Al-Shifa, Al-Urayja, Al-Batha, Al-Hair, 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 areas most prominent landmarks. The centre of the city, Al-Bathaa and Al-Dirah, is also its oldest part.
In 1999 a new central Museum was built in Riyadh at the eastern side of the King Abdul Aziz Historical Centre. This National Museum of Saudi Arabia combined several collections and pieces that had up until then been scattered over several Institutions and places in Riyadh and the Kingdom. For example the meteorite fragment known as the "Camels Hump" that was on display at the King Saud University in Riyadh became the new entry piece of the National Museum of Saudi Arabia.