Al Mamlaka Banner Image

Written by Gabriel Murray, Creative Director at TGP International

Rooted in age-old traditions, Saudi Arabia's social fabric has long been characterised by a certain conservatism and adherence to strict cultural norms. It's society is known for its insularity and places a strong emphasis on family ties, as well as maintaining clear gender segmentation.

However, in recent years, a wave of social reforms brought forward by the government and Saudi Vision 2030 has ushered in a paradigm shift.

Welcomed by large swathes of the populace, Saudi Arabia is now embarking on a progressive path, fostering a more inclusive and individually expressive society.

Traditional standards are being re-examined and explored, leading to a palpable desire for spaces like our recently opened Al Mamlaka Social Dining Hall that allow and encourage social interaction.


In certain cultures, the social dimension of dining is somewhat expected. In fact, we’ve seen elements such as interactivity, entertainment and collaborative experiences become a major driver for the success of new F&B concepts that have evolved to meet the needs of restaurant goers today.

Yet, in places like Saudi Arabia, currently undergoing transformative social changes, dining, and the opportunities for inclusion, sharing and mixing that come with it, have become a unique environment where traditions blend with contemporary values—creating a space where the shared experience of a meal becomes a profound expression of newfound social dynamics.



Initially working with the Kingdom Centre in Riyadh, we set out to create and operate a food hall within the mall. For those who have never visited the city, this building is probably the most iconic in the city. In addition to retail and entertainment offerings, this grand tower is home to offices, residential units and the prestigious Four Seasons Hotel.

Our brief was to create a destination food hall that was something special, something unique. It had to be something that would create a buzz in the market and differ in some way from the many upmarket F&B offerings around, while still catering to a desire for fine dining quality food.

With that in mind, our plan become to make the space a real point of difference with a unique narrative and activations that meant something to the local community, that people could really engage with.

More than just a place to take a break from shopping or meet a colleague for lunch, we wanted Al Mamlaka to be a destination people would look forward to visiting from near and far.

As several conversations and ideas emerged from this, our overall proposition became crystallised by the term ‘Social Dining’.



The physical layout of the space was critical, we needed to create something that was both intimate and expansive—a space that ‘opened up’ throughout the day to expose more of the venue’s offerings.

As the creative process ensured, several things fell into place as key focal points for the concept’s design. The entrance from the mall became an obvious coffee area

surrounded by more all-day food options, with a selection of Saudi offerings, chefs and brands considered to be local favourites.

It was decided that this would then lead to a central area that became ‘the international collection’, a clustered arrangement of global food outlets, including the Hawaiian inspired El Ta’koy. An adjacent deli area also proved to work harmoniously with this configuration, as well as various dessert stations offering gelato and other treats.

As a foundation for this space where groups could sit and mix, we allocated to the right of this cluster two open plan destination restaurants—Lilly’s Café, a European bistro, and Assembly, a Levantine-inspired Skewer and Mezze offer.

Other strategic decisions were made to offer cohesion and flow throughout, but something that was really interesting about all of this was how each of our decisions had to be framed by three key elements—a kind of three way inference that would guide our team through the creative process.

Firstly, Al Mamlaka needed to serve as a physical space for gathering, dining, and socialising, becoming a bustling hub where people could come together to eat, drink, and connect.


With its late opening hours and weekend live entertainment, it was envisioned that the venue would transform into a vibrant gathering place in Riyadh, buzzing with activity and energy.

Secondly, beyond its physical presence, Al Mamlaka we knew that the concept must also extend its social aspect into the digital realm, where customers would share their experiences online in real-time through social media platforms.

By becoming experience sharers, patrons then engage with the space digitally, posting images and videos of themselves, the food, and the overall ambiance. And this digital interaction would then add another layer to the social dynamic of Al Mamlaka, enhancing its connection with customers beyond the physical space.

Finally, the design and décor of Al Mamlaka were carefully curated to embody a modern quasi-Mediterranean aesthetic, balancing uniqueness with familiarity. Dubbed as "rustic elegance," we aimed to create an environment that evoked an easy-going yet elevated feel, inviting patrons to feel warm and welcomed while also experiencing a sense of adventure and luxury.

We believe the approach we took, and the design concept that resulted, not only enhanced the physical space that was available to us, but now contributes to the overall social dining experience of the city, with some patrons even comparing their time at Al Mamlaka to being on holiday in Riyadh—adding yet another dimension to the gathering space.



Al Mamlaka means many things to us at TGP. Responsible for creating the concept, designing the space, crafting the branding, and operating the overall experience, it is a project that encapsulates many of the things we love the most.

Al Mamlaka resides in The Kingdom Centre and has proven extremely popular with both locals and tourist. It has become a destination within the social fabric of Riyadh and has spurred us on to develop more projects of this kind.

The concept is not just a food hall—we created a new kind of space and place for Social Dining, which is about giving people an opportunity to engage with others, to share conversations, to share the same entertainment, and, to have fun as a community.

Having worked on the Al Mamlaka project from the beginning it was so magnificent to talk with one of the project management team on opening day back in November 2023, a young Saudi who has worked in the USA with a very open and progressive outlook on life. We were able to explore the nuances of contemporary living and his memories of childhood growing up in the local culture.

Most notably, he explained how his mother cried as she entered the space. She was so emotional and proud of the space, moved by how it was, in her eyes, the embodiment of a New Saudi Arabia—a nation that was built on a new vision of bringing people together and looking outward towards a future of change and excitement.

This was the kind of reaction we had hoped for, and we felt incredible pride in having contributed to a space such as this. Since then, I have returned several times and each time I realise the pride of community and the power of sharing and socialising that is stirring an overwhelming level of emotion in the country.

Finally, as an older European who visits the region a lot, I can see how this emerging aspect of social dining has become a metaphor for the massive changes that are all around Saudi. The friendliness and openness of the people is wonderful to see.

The joy and engagement with the Al Mamlaka space is infectious. From people enjoying mocktails at Blend by Lyles to the customers chatting and sharing their experiences with the rest of the world. This is Social Dining.

Written by Gabriel Murray, Creative Director at TGP International

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