Located on the outskirts of Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, Diriyah is the ancestral seat of the Al Saud dynasty and home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif, the First Saudi State, established in 1727.

With the Diriyah Gate project aiming to develop Diriyah as a world-class tourism destination, in 2023 the Diriyah Gate Development Authority partnered with Sitecore Platinum Partner, Publicis Sapient to launch Diriyah’s digital presence.

Defining Diriyah’s digital vision

Sharing their success story at Sitecore DX Dubai, Sharon Fernandes, Publicis Sapient’s Senior Client Partner, MENA; Deep Walia, Diriyah Gate’s Interactive Strategy Director, and Rawan Tayem, Senior Customer Success Manager at Sitecore explained how they drove engineering and content excellence for this Sitecore-powered project.

For Publicis Sapient, the first step in the process with Diriyah Gate Development Authority was defining its digital vision. They set an ambitious goal to launch four websites within a period of 18 weeks, along with 12 apps across three separate AWS environments.

To get the project over the line in time, Publicis Sapient and Diriyah Gate worked closely with a team from Sitecore. From the very first day, the clock was ticking.

A record-breaking Content Hub ONE implementation

To support the mammoth content-driven project envisioned by Diriyah Gate, Publicis Sapient helped build three fully-fledged design libraries, over 200 components, 252 content types, and over 50 templates. The Diriyah Gate and Publicis Sapient team also worked together to write over 240,000 lines of code in a matter of weeks, setting the stage for scalability right from the beginning.

Using Sitecore’s Content Hub ONE, the teams could easily manage a wide array of content types and components.

“This [ended up being] the fastest Content Hub ONE implementation ever,” said Fernandes. “We had a global, remote team of 32, working across time zones. We were quite literally working around the clock,” she continued.

Team members from the three organizations collaborated to manage integrations, compliance, and security, as well as numerous stakeholders and their evolving requirements.

An agile strategy built on trust

Bringing together brand content, compliance, and legal elements seamlessly — and quickly — is no mean feat, let alone when one of the stakeholders is a government-funded public company.

Collaboration and trust were key to unlocking the agility needed to meet the 18-week deadline.

“We quickly understood that we needed a high-trust environment between all the team involved in order to hit our deadline,” Ryan Loots told the audience at Sitecore DX Dubai.

To facilitate that exchange of trust, a series of collaborative workshops were set up where asset owners from various departments could come together to offer their opinions and make decisions to help shape the product.

“We definitely missed an internal deadline or two on our journey towards the 18-week deadline, but we made it up to get over the line in time,” Loots stated before explaining that “empowered decision making,” made all the difference.

Through their ongoing collaboration, clear direction from CMOs, prompt approvals, and the growth of trust on a granular and macro level, the trio of companies delivered a robust solution.

A crucial role in Saudi Arabia’s tourism drive

With Sitecore’s cutting-edge technology underpinning the project, the teams delivered four record-breaking launches.

At the 18-week mark, Publicis Sapient successfully handled the fastest-ever Content Hub ONE implementation, the fastest-ever design system production, and the fastest-ever documentation launch and successfully launched four websites in just 18 weeks.

The project was “nothing short of exhilarating,” Fernandes told the crowd in Dubai.

The four Diriyah Gate websites collectively welcomed over 1 million visits within the first six months of going live. Today, they are a crucial part of Saudi Arabia’s plan to revolutionize the country’s tourism industry.

Diriyah now aims to become one of the world’s most exhilarating and historical, cultural, and sporting hotspots. With the town’s museum now open for visitors, Diriyah is gearing up to host Formula E racing, tennis, equestrian, and boxing events this November and December during its annual festival, Diriyah Season.

To learn more about Sitecore Content Hub ONE and what it can do for your business, visit here. And to get a full recap of everything that happened at Sitecore DX Dubai, we have a summary blog you can read.

Fiona Hilliard is Senior Content Marketing Manager at Sitecore. Connect with her on LinkedIn.