Wadi Hanifah

  • Wadi Hanifah and people
  • Wadi Hanifah at sunset
  • Wadi Hanifah pools
  • Wadi Hanifah steps at sunset
  • Wadi Hanifah stones

1 / Introduction

Wadi Hanifah is a 120km long, 4500km2 watershed that passes through the capital city of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. Located in the middle of the Najd Plateau it has been labelled the most significant natural feature in the region.

The project won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2010 and has gained further recognition by winning the Top Award in the Plans Category of the annual international Waterfront Centre Awards in Montreal along with being presented to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development during its 12th Annual Conference in New York in April 2004.


Key facts

  • 120km long
  • Region's most significant natural feature
  • Will provide 120,000m3 of water for irrigation and agriculture

The Project Details

  • Client:
    Arriyadh Development Authority
  • Landscape Architect:
    Moriyama & Teshima Planners
  • Project value:
    £300m

2 / Challenge

The wadi has become a permanent flowing river in its lower reaches due to rising groundwater and sewage effluent discharge from the city, whose population is projected to more than double from approximately four million in 2004 to almost eight million by 2025. In addition, the wadi suffers from seasonal flooding, on average once every one to two years.

This project needed to provide environmental remediation to the wadi and its environments, allowing for flood and dry weather flow protection, including water quality remediation, restore and enhance the landscape, as well as co-ordinate and resolve the conflicts associated with some of the city’s key utilities and highways, which were located in the wadi bed.

A key challenge to our team was to significantly improve the city’s sustainable use of water, by reducing its reliance on expensive desalinated water from the coast.

3 / Solution

Rather than the using more traditional techniques our team proposed to improve the water quality in the lower reaches of the wadi using bioremediation techniques.

This more sustainable approach will make available approximately 120,000m3 of water per day for irrigation, agriculture and other non-potable uses.

This could potentially increase to a staggering 1,000,000m3 per day by 2025.

4 / Value

Wadi Hanifah is an on-going project where we continue to offer a wide-range of services and focussed expertise addressing the various challenges, aspirations and an entire region’s need to become more sustainable and resilient. We are changing the day-to-day lives of millions of people in the region. We’re not sure what value you can put on that.