The Wadi Hanifah, a fertile valley which runs through part of Riyadh, was for many years used as a rubbish dump and was considered a public health hazard. However, it has recently been transformed into a huge park, which comprises of lakes that attract cool air to the area. It is such a huge oasis that it is extremely hard for any force to police the area, which makes it a place for locals to truly relax, in more than one sense. One of our local readers who told us about the place says that it brings him great joy to go to the beautiful Wadi Hanifah. He says that there was nothing here before except rubbish, and now there are trails, routes and even services. The beautiful Wadi Hanifah is a sharp contrast to the industrial city of Riyadh. This is because the Wadi consists of beautiful trees and huge shimmering lakes amongst other things which make the area stand out.[irp]
The Hanifah Valley, which went through an award-winning restoration project which took 10 years to complete, was previously used as an open sewer and a dumping ground. Now locals cannot get enough of this beautiful valley. The Wadi Hanifah which rises in the highlands of central region of Arabia runs southeastward for about 120 km before fading into the sands of the desert of the Empty Quarter. Riyadh over the ages progressed initially as a village, then to a small town and from the 1970s experienced such a huge surge in growth that the city’s ecosystem became overwhelmed. The city was also victim to seasonal floods which caused great health risks for all the inhabitants. However, you cannot see any of its polluted past, in the valley today.
The Wadi Hanifah has gone through major improvements since its completion and now even hosts a children’s play area. Now there are palm trees which provide shade to carefully picked out picnic spots, each of which resembles a horseshoe which has been made by limestone slabs to give a bit of privacy. There are also steps which lead down into the valley from the picnic spots so that the children can enjoy and play around, while the family rests under the shade.
Since Riyadh is a highly industrialized city, there is literally no open space in the city. The Riyadh Development Authority has since 2001, started redeveloping and restoring the valley by landscaping, replantation and clearing out the rubbish. In most modern cities people have to go high up to experience fresh air and open space, but in Riyadh, you have to go down. [irp]
It should be noted here that due to traditional reasons, Riyadh has no other entertainment activities like movies, theaters or music, so this is the only place which people flock to, to get some entertainment. This place is a definite must go for all residents of Riyadh and even those who are just visiting. If you want more information as to what the Wadi Hanifah has in store for you, go to their website for detailed descriptions and images which will convince you to visit the place for sure.