Diriyah is a town in Saudi Arabia located on the north-western outskirts of the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Diriyah was the original home of the Saudi royal family, and served as the capital of the Emirate of Diriyah under the first Saudi dynasty from 1744 to 1818. Today, the town is the seat of the Diriyah Governorate, which also includes the villages of Uyayna, Jubayla, and Al-Ammariyyah, among others, and is part of Ar Riyad Province.
The Turaif district, the first capital of Saudis, in Diriyah was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
During the Islamic Prophet Muhammad's era the Expedition of Muhammad ibn Maslamah took place here in July, 627AD in Muharram, 6AH.
A platoon of thirty Muslims under the leadership of Muhammad bin Maslamah was despatched on a military mission. It headed for the habitation of Banu Bakr sept. The Muslims attacked that sept and dispersed them in all directions. Plenty of spoils were captured and the Muslims returned with the chief of the tribe of Banu Hanifa, called Thumamah bin Uthal Al-Hanafi.
Although the location is sometimes identified with an ancient settlement mentioned by Yaqut and Al-Hamadani known as "Ghabra", the history of Diriyah proper dates back to the 15th century. According to the chroniclers of Nejd, the city was founded in 1446-7 by Mani Al-Mraydi, an ancestor of the Saudi royal family. Mani and his clan had come from the area of Al-Qatif in eastern Arabia, upon the invitation of Ibn Dir, who was then the ruler of a group of settlements that now make up Riyadh. Ibn Dir is said to have been a relative of Mani Al-Mraydi, and Mani's clan is believed to have left the area of Wadi Hanifa at some unknown date and were merely returning to their country of origin.
Initially, Mani and his clan, known as the Mrudah, settled in Ghusaybah and Al-Mulaybeed. The entire settlement was named Al-Dir'iyah, after Mani's benefactor Ibn Dir. Later on, the district of Turaif was settled. Many families from other towns or from the bedouin tribes of the nearby desert eventually settled in the area and by the 18th century Diriyah had become a well-known town in Nejd.
At that time, Muhammad ibn Saud emerged from a struggle within the ruling family of Al-Diriyah, the Al Miqrin, and became the emir, or ruler, of Al-Diriyah. In 1744, Ibn Saud took in a religious scholar named Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who hailed from the town of Al-Uyaynah, lying on the same wadi some 30 miles upstream. Ibn Saud agreed to implement Ibn Abdul Wahhab's religious views, and what later became known as the First Saudi State, with its capital at Diriyah, was born. Within the next several decades, Ibn Saud and his immediate descendants managed to subjugate all of Nejd, as well as the eastern and western regions of Arabia, and sent raids into Iraq. Diriyah quickly swelled in size and increased in wealth, becoming the largest town in Nejd and a major city in Arabia by the standards of the time. However, the Saudis conquest of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina drew the ire of the Ottoman Empire, the major Islamic power at the time, led to the Ottoman-Saudi War of 1811–1818 and an invasion of Arabia by Ottoman and Egyptian forces brought the Saudi state to an end in 1818, with Diriyah capitulating after a nearly-year-long siege. The leader of the invading force, Ibrahim Pasha, ordered the destruction of Diriyah. However, when a member of the local nobility tried to revive the Wahhabi state in Diriyah, Ibrahim ordered his troops to destroy the town even further and set whatever was left of it on fire. When the Saudis revived their fortunes in 1824 and again in 1902, they made their capital further south in Riyadh, which has remained their capital ever since.
The town's original inhabitants left Diriyah after 1818, with the bulk of them moving to Riyadh. However, the area was resettled in the late 20th century, mostly by former nomads, and a new city was founded by the Saudi government in the late 1970s. This new city of Diriyah grew in size and is now a small but modern town and the seat of its own governorate. The ruins remain a tourist attraction, and are subject to a slow restoration project on the part of the Saudi government.