Meet Jerry Inzerillo, the Group CEO of Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), who is leading the $50.6 billion effort to re-center Diriyah on the global map as a crossroads of culture, arts, science, and commerce.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Jerry entered the hospitality industry as a busboy at the age of 13, where he quickly climbed the ranks to become a titan of the industry. And recently voted ‘’Hotelier of the World’’ by Hotels Magazines.
Jerry has served in a wide range of roles across hospitality and entertainment over his career, including as president of Kerzner Entertainment Group, where he raised the profile and positioning of its properties in South Africa, the Bahamas, Dubai, Morocco, Mauritius, Mexico, the Maldives, as well as conceptualized and positioned the start-up of its One&Only and Atlantis brands.
In his personal life, Jerry has long been involved with philanthropy, especially with respect to children, education, and HIV/AIDS. He was honored with a Knighthood by the Knights of Malta in Rome, Italy, in 1996. Jerry is also a founding advisory board member of the Clinton AIDS initiative.
In June 2018, Jerry was appointed by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be the founding Group CEO of the newly created DGDA, where he was tasked with developing and implementing a master plan to transform Diriyah, the ancient capital of the First Saudi State.
DGDA is driving the transformation of Diriyah through a range of initiatives, the chief among which is tourism, with the goal to attract approximately 27 million visitors by 2030.
“Diriyah will be the world’s largest mud-brick city, designed in the Najdi architectural style native to the region and using traditional construction methods and materials where possible. This grounds the project in Diriyah’s history and ensures that we are authentically paying tribute to this 300-year-old city,” Mr. Inzerillo said.
Jerry has identified that one of the greatest vehicles to raise awareness of Diriyah’s accomplishments is through the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 strategy. First conceived by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Vision 2030’s goal is to transform and elevate Saudi society, while drawing on the huge number of young, talented human capital living in the country to drive this Vision forward.
Diriyah is one of the cornerstone projects of Vision 2030 and as such, Jerry has made it his mission as Group CEO to align DGDA with the Vision’s core tenets, including those around the development and empowerment of Saudi talent.
Upon the Diriyah development’s completion, 55,000 jobs will be created, producing significant opportunities for Saudi Arabia’s population. Under Jerry’s leadership, DGDA has positioned itself at the forefront of encouraging inclusive employment opportunities in line with Vision 2030 Diriyah’s objectives are specifically encouraging the roles and prominence of women and young people within the organization and prioritizing Saudization and ensuring exciting roles for Saudi nationals. Indeed, 85 percent of DGDA’s staff now consists of Saudi nationals, 14 percent of whom are from Diriyah, with more than a third of employees being female and 16 percent of leadership positions occupied by women.
Jerry is leading DGDA to build a world-class destination, from restaurants and hotels to cultural centers and residential areas.
In the entertainment sector, Diriyah is opening its premium dining district, Bujairi Terrace this year, hosting leading Saudi brands alongside Michelin-starred restaurants. Diriyah has also been host to the Formula E races, major boxing matches, and the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale.
In terms of tourism, Diriyah continues to be a global player. DGDA will be home to a 38-hotel-strong hospitality offering that includes 14 global brands which have already been announced, such as the Four Seasons, Armani, Ritz-Carlton, Rosewood, Six Senses, and many others. Diriyah is also preparing to open the UNESCO World Heritage Site of At-Turaif to the public permanently for the very first time later this year.
The tourism industry leader said the project was of great significance to Saudi Arabia and the world. “Diriyah’s uniqueness lies in its ability to tangibly connect the destination to its deep-rooted history and cultural past while driving innovation to bring it into the future. Its buildings will be constructed using handmade mud bricks in the traditional Najdi style that is native to the region,” he said.
“We are very excited that our first assets will be ready to open this year, including the historic and spectacular At-Turaif, which will officially welcome guests from around the world for the very first time.”