Best architect firms in the GCC
The top 15 local architecture firms in the GCC
From Jeddah to Doha to Dubai, Middle East Architect reveals the top 15 local architecture firms in the GCC
Many of the biggest and best-known projects in the Middle East bear the name of firms headquartered in the US, UK or Europe, but the firms of the GCC have also left their indelible stamps on the architecture of the region.
From regional giants such as Saudi Arabia’s ZFP and Abu Dhabi’s Dewan, to the 5-10 person outfits of Jeddah, Dubai and Kuwait, Middle East Architect has ranked GCC’s brightest and best according to the number of architects on their staff. All of the firms that follow are headquartered in the GCC and completed our online survey at www.constructionweekonline.com.
Khatib & Alami
The firm: Khatib and Alami began its life in Lebanon as a consulting firm but has since spread to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Kuwait, the UAE, Bahrain, Palestine, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Sudan, Libya and Iraq, as well as the Caucuses and Europe. Founded by Prof Munir Khatib in 1959, the firm now has over 50 years experience in major projects in the Middle East, providing consulting services in architecture, planning, construction, structural engineering, transportation, airports, light rail networks, ports, lanscaping, irrigation, environmental engineering, IT and MEP systems.
Project: Motor City Green Community, Dubai.
Zuhair Fayez Partnership
HQ: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
The firm: With offices in Riyadh, Mecca, Damman and Medina, ZFP are Saudi Arabia’s biggest architecture firm. Founded 35 years ago by architect Zuhair Fayez in Jeddah, the firm now has international offices in Cairo, Dubai, Manila and Hyderabad, and a slew of major projects under its belt – including individual developments and those carried through with international partners. ZFP’s most recent project is the High Technology Park Buildings for Pension Fund in Riyadh.
Project: ITCC, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Dewan Architectsand Engineers
HQ: Abu Dhabi
The firm: Founded in Baghdad by chairman and CEO Mohamed Al Assam, Dewan now has offices in Dubai, Riyadh, Baghdad, Manila and Doha. The firm is responsible for a number of high-profile projects in the UAE but has most recently turned its attention back to Iraq, where it is currently working on a redevelopment of the area surrounding the holy shrines at Kadhimiya, Baghdad. Dewan are also currently developing six schools for the Abu Dhabi Education Council.
Project: Media One Tower, Dubai, UAE.
Arab Engineering Bureau (AEB)
HQ: Doha, Qatar
The firm: Over the past 45 years AEB has completed over 1,000 projects across the Middle East and Asia, from private villas to billion dollar mega-projects. Founded by Ibrahim Mohamed Al Jaidah in Doha, Qatar, the firm now has offices in Abu Dhabi, Manila and Kuala Lumpur and plans to open a new office in Muscat, Oman, in the near future. Recent projects include the Park Hyatt Hotel in Doha, and a number of embassy buildings including the Omani embassy in Yemen and the Qatari Embassy in Cyprus.
Project: Kempinski Tower, Qatar.
DSA Architects International
The firm: Based in Dubai, DSA Architects has projects ranging from the Seychelles to Mexico including hotels, industrial and commercial projects, retail and residential. The firm behind both the Madinat Jumeirah and Dubai Old Town, DSA has a significant presence in the region, and large offices in South Africa and Portugal to serve its regional markets. Other recent developments include Al Fattan Residences in Abu Dhabi, and IFA Fairmont Residences, Jumeirah Palm Island.
Project: Tilal Liwa Hotel, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Draw Link Group
The firm: With offices in Tunisia and Qatar, Draw Link Group’s most recent projects are a boutique hotel in Deira as well as the Dougga Centre in Tunisia, where founding partner and lead architect Daousser Chennoufi hails from. Draw Link also designed the Al Mizar and
Zabeel mosques in Dubai, UAE.
Project: Dougga Centre, Tunisia.
Al Hatmy Engineering Consultants
HQ: Muscat, Oman
The firm: Based in the Omani capital of Muscat, Al Hatmy has worked in UAE, Pakistan and Africa since it was founded 30 years ago by Ali Al Hamdani. Recent projects include a building on Dubai Marina and a sports complex in Oman. The firm is also doing a great deal of work in Tanzania, and is currently developing the Royal Dar Es Salaam Golf Course.
Project: Royal Dar Es Salaam Golf Course, Tanzania.
The firm: Started by Ahmed Al Ali and Farid Esmaeil just seven years ago in Dubai, X Architects has been involved in a number of well-received residential projects in the UAE, including Xeritown, an eco-city designed in 2008 and the winner of Middle East Architect’s best mixed use development award in 2009. The fast-growing Emirati firm has also designed numerous villas, house boats and showrooms in the UAE and recently established an office in Abu Dhabi. X Architects has developed a reputation for highly-sustainable architecture and local design.
Project: Kojack Motor Showroom, Motorcity, Dubai.
The firm: Started by architects Amir Rahbar and Ahmed Al Banna in the late 1980s, Dubarch was responsible for one of Dubai’s first iconic landmark buildings, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, on which Rahbar was chosen as lead consultant. Since then the firm has established offices in Abu Dhabi and Manila, and worked for high-profile clients including the Commercial Bank of Dubai and the Shangri-La Hotel. They recently worked on Qasr Al Sarab, a desert resort.
Project: Qasr Al Sarab, near Liwa , Abu Dhabi, UAE.
HQ: Dubai, UAE
The firm: Primarily involved in interior design, 3 Square’s exterior and landscape work only accounts for around 15% of its total work. But the firm are looking to boost this to over 30% in the next 12 months. With Nazneen Sabavala heading up the landscape design division has a number of projects under consideration. One of these projects includes a 20,000m2 farmhouse in Khawaneej, near Dubai.
Project: Private residence, Dubai.
Yasser Hejazy Consulting Engineers
HQ: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
The firm: Jeddah-based architect Yasser Hejazy recently entered into a partnership with Lebanese engineering company DEP. The firm is benefitting from Saudi Arabia’s recent construction boom, and is set to open offices in Riyadh later this year. Recent developments include the iconic Jeddah Gate Twin Tower and residential villas at the massive Knowledge Economic City.
Project: Knowledge Economic City, Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
HQ: Dubai, UAE
The firm: TRACE Design was founded by Yemeni architect Suhail Thabet, who returned to the Middle East in 2007. Since then, the firm has been extremely active in the UAE, designing the offices for Dubai firm Profound Management Corporate, and a five villa compound in Al Ain. TRACE is also involved in two high-end restaurant projects.
Project: Office concept, UAE.
The firm: Set up ten years ago by architect Khalid Al Najjar, dxb.lab has made quite a name for itself in the UAE, designing a range of commercial, residential and public sector developments. Since being joined by Shahab Lutfi, CEO, in 2005 the firm has stretched itself into larger scale projects, including, in 2010, two labor camps in Jebel Ali and six private villas.
Project: Private villa, UAE.
HQ: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
The firm: Since starting out in Jeddah just over ten years ago, Urbanphenomena has sought to bring together young architects and designers in Saudi Arabia. The firm was set up by Mohammad Al-Sharif and Reda Sijiny and is involved in a number of residential projects in Jeddah and Riyadh.
Project: Al-Wesal Residential Units, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
GEC DAR - Gulf Engineers Consultants
HQ: Kuwait City, Kuwait
The firm: Headed up by sisters Shatha and Nada Al-Fahad, GEC DAR is only two years old but hoping to corner attract those clients in the Kuwaiti market who are looking for quality design within realistic budgets. The firm’s latest project is a social center and building for Imams and preachers in Kuwait, other developments on the boards include the Amwaj Centre in Saudi Arabia and the White Residence in Kuwait.
Project: Social Center & Imams Forum Building, Kuwait.