Riyad, Or Riad, a city of Arabia, capital of the sultanate of Nedjed, in the province of Aared, lat. 24° 38' 34" N, lon. 46° 41' 48" E.; pop. estimated by Palgrave in 1862 at 40,000. It is a nearly square walled town, lying in an open valley, and surrounded by green fields, palm groves, and well watered gardens. It is divided into four quarters, but there is no separation otherwise than by broad streets. The N. E. quarter contains the palaces of the royal family and the houses of state officers and of the richer class; the N. W., an irregular mass of houses, is inhabited chiefly by those who are not strict Wahabees; the S. W., which is spacious and clean, is the chosen abode of the Wahabee orthodoxy; and the S. E., called Khazik (crowded), the worst built part of the town, is the home of the lower classes. The central point where these divisions meet is the market place, with the royal palace on one side and the great mosque on the other, the two being connected by a covered way. The remainder of the square is surrounded by the shops of tradesmen and artisans. Besides the great mosque, a large flat-roofed building capable of holding 2,000 persons, there are 30 or more smaller mosques in the several quarters.
The palace is a mass of buildings, generally three stories in height, occupying a parallelogram surrounded by high walls, defended by bastions and towers, and having a dry moat around two thirds of its circuit. The walls of the city, which vary from 20 to 30 ft. in height, are massive and strong, and are defended by a deep trench and embankment. Riyad is the great centre of Wahabitism, and all its residents are obliged to conform to the strict rules of the faith. Every morning and evening the names of those whom vicinity obliges to attend prayers are read over in the several mosques, so as to insure presence and detect absentees. The pilgrim route from Persia to Mecca and Medina passes through Riyad. It has been the capital of Nedjed since 1818, when Derayeh, the ancient capital, was destroyed by Ibrahim Pasha.