Until two Centuries ago, the UAE was once an open featureless landscape, that was mainly populated by tribesmen and nomadic Arabs for the pearling and trading industry that was recognized in the region. Years later the discovery of the oil field in the country drastically improved its economy, transforming it into the financial hub that it is today, starting  by developing and urbanizing the country to match the unparalleled population growth the country faced. The urban composition in the UAE started to rise from the local vernacular that highlights the country’s identity to the sleek modern skyscrapers, all starting with the influential architects in the United Arab Emirates that helped the country to flourish to what it is today. From creating utopian cities with a city to hi-tech sustainable architectural approaches, here are 15 of the influential masterminds from the UAE  to be looked out for… 

1. DEWAN ARCHITECTS + ENGINEERS

The Architect: Ammar Al Assam, CEO

This architecture practice is one of the largest in the and top firms in the UAE, that worked on various types of projects, from commercial to mixed use and residential projects. Originally established in Abu Dhabi, only to be growing and developing in the region and expanding to Dubai and countries in Africa and SouthEast Asia. Lead by Ammar Al Assam an Emirati CEO of Dewan that became an essential part of the firm’s growth, as the mastermind accomplished to control and lead the integration of modern, hi-tech architecture  with sustainable solution designs in the practice. Resulting to the firm becoming BIM compatible and behind many of UAE’s structures. 

  • Notable Projects: Riverland, Mamsha Al Saadiyat, Dar Al Wasl,  Lapita Hotel, Battuta Mall 

To check more of their work and firm find more at: https://www.dewan-architects.com/

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2. LA CASA

The Architect: Mohammad Sirhan, Executive Director. Projects 

La Casa is an architectural firm with many aspiring architects to look out for, and their different types of projects and structures that includes: accommodation, retailing and commercial. It was initiated in Dubai only to be expanding to other neighboring GCC countries. It continued to grow, with Mohammad Sirhan as a project director being behind this development and integration of MEP and structural systems, with sustainable solutions in La Casa’s work. 

  • Notable Projects: Ajman Free Zone Tower, Royal Atlantis, Madinat Badr Phase 2 (Zone4), School of Research Science, Residence 1451

To check more of their work and firm find more at: http://www.lacasa.ae/

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3. X-ARCHITECTS 

The Architect: Farid Esmaeil, Founding Partner  

X Architects is a strong architectural studio in Dubai, that translates Arab-Islamic culture into contemporary designs with sustainable solutions. Farid Esmaeil is one of the main masterminds behind this practice, with international recognition over a diverse type of work. He creates a harmony between the existing environment and the contextual through his designs and architecture. His reputation continued to evolve through expressing contemporary society and urban identity in his work, as he managed to win a competition to design a masterplan to the holiest city of Muslims, Makkah. 

Notable Projects: Louisiana Museum Exhibition, TBT Showroom, Kalba Bird of Prey Centre, O De Squisito House Boat, Esmaeil Villa 

To check more of their work and firm find more at: https://x-architects.com/en

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4. EDGE ARCHITECTS 

The Architect: Farah Mudhefer, Senior Architect  

Being an award winning architectural studio in the biggest emirates in the UAE, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. EDGE is a new firm in comparison to others in the country that is doing , founded in 2009. Most of their projects are based on environmental, project type and budget management. With Farah Mudhefer being the senior architect in the firm having a woman leading the projects ever since the establishment of the practice. 

  • Notable Projects: 17 Icon Bay, Tomini Classics Showroom, Ain Dubai Blue Water Plaza Enhancement, Culture Village Bridges

To check more of their work and firm find more at: https://www.edgedesign.ae/

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5. ARCHIDENTITY 

The Architect: Ahmed Bukhash, Chief architect and founder

Ahmed Bukhash, the Emirati architect that managed to build his own architectural practice : Archidentity, in 2009. He had the goal of illustrating his Emirati culture and identity onto his work, although his entrance to the UAE architecture practice world a bit later, he managed to have completed various projects that reflects on culture and modernism, keeping the UAE identity alive in his work even  though most of his completed work are residential villas .  

  • Notable Projects: FZ House, The Art of Dining Bentley, FO House, JT House 

To check more of their work and firm find more at: http://www.archidentity.ae/home/

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6. ARDH ARCHITECTS  

The Architect: Omran Alowais, Chief architect and founder

This architectural practice is founded by the Emirati Architect Omran Alowais. The name of the studio refers to the word ‘land’ in Arabic, showcasing all design disciplines, including architecture,  interior  and landscaping. Although this Emirati architect illustrates contemporary environmental friendly ideas with Arab-Islamic architecture in his work even though most of his projects are for private clients. 

  • Notable Projects: Private Fitness and Wellness, Private Majlis, Nahil Farm House, Al Azra private Residence 

To check more of their work and firm find more at: https://www.ardh.ae/ 

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7. LOCI ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN 

The Architect: Hani Fallaha, Architect Partner 

Loci Architecture is an architectural practice with culturally integrated designs onto different various projects from pavilions to commercial and residential. Led by RIBA Award winning president Hani Fallaha, his practice works with local and earth materials making long-term designs.

  • Notable Projects: Motor City Community Center, Villa Lima, Abwab Pavilion, Yas Island Beach Club 

To check more of their work and firm find more at: http://loci.ae/#home

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8. GA ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS 

The Architect: Ghazi Awad, Founder Architect 

 Founded by Ghazi Awad, GA Architects became one of the leading architecture practices in the UAE. The wide range of projects, from hospitality to high-rise buildings Awad’s practice managed buildings that made importance in the country. His 45 years of experience is shown in his sleek modernist buildings. 

  • Notable Projects: Holiday Center, Mangrove Village, Najmat Abu Dhabi Mosque, Kahlidiya Arjaan by Rotana  

To check more of their work and firm find more at: https://www.gaae.com/

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9. BAYATY ARCHITECTS 

The Architect: Dr.Muthanna Jamal Abdullah Al-Bayati , Managing Director 

Led by the mastermind, Dr. Muthana Al Bayati, his practice managed most of the important buildings in the UAE from governmental to religious projects, he produced designs that are socially and economically contextual with environmental solutions.  

  • Notable Projects: City Land Mall, Ajman Court Complex, Forensic Warehouse, Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Mosque. 

To check more of their work and firm find more at: https://bayatyarchitects.com/ 

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10. GRANADA ARCHITECTURE 

The Architect: Bassam Bahry ,Project Manager

Led by Bahry, He managed the practice making it flourish in the UAE, most of their work is residental and private villas. 

  • Notable Projects:  Maggies Caring Center, Zoo Park, Jungle House, Society Housing 

To check more of their work and firm find more at: http://granada-gulf.com/ 

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11.  MAKAN 

The Architect: Mohammed Alwan, CEO / PARTNER

Co-founded by Mohamed Alwan,  ‘Makan’ is an architectural firm in AbuDhabi that grew ever since 2005.  Expanding to different middle eastern countries, Alwam’s background  and experience in architecture of over 2 decades is shown through the sleek work of Makan making contemporary sleek architecture work .

  • Notable Projects: Sama Towers, Manhal Gate Tower, Al Ain University, Khalifa Mosque 

  To check more of their work and firm find more at: https://makan.ae/

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12. AL EMAAR ENGINEERING CONSULTANTS 

The Architect:  Hamad Sultan Al Owais, Partner 

This firm is different from other architectural studios in the UAE, the firm constructed up-scale residential and commercial buildings, with Hamad Alowais being behind this development, he managed to show the importance of socio-economic architecture in the field in hand with an empowering women architect which is not often in the field: Preethi Sethumadhavan.

  To check more of their work and firm find more at: http://aeecarch.com/

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13. ARCHCORP

Founded ever since 2005, this architectural studio started in Dubai, and started expanding to different emirates in the country. The office offers not only architectural designs but sustainable and structural making it MEP and BIM compatible, hence the development of the practice making it expand to different projects in different countries. 

To check more of their work and firm find more at: https://www.archcorp.biz/#

Notable Projects: Al Juraina Shopping Mall, Atarfil factory and offices, Jama Mosque, Al Waha residence, Sustainable house  

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14. SHAPE ARCHITECTURE PRACTICE AND RESEARCH 

Architect : Abdulla Al-Shamsi, Managing director 

This architectural practice offers all types of engineering and urban designs. Shape shows interest in technological and environmental designs. Founded in 2007 by Abdulla Al Shamasi ,illustrating the importance of digital designs in the country and the middle east as a whole making of himself as an example. 

  • Notable Projects: 72 hotel 

  To check more of their work and firm find more at: http://www.shape.ae/

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Baheya Sarhan
Author

An Architecture BA graduate that aims to leave her mark by offering her skill-set and knowledge of architecture to the rest of the world, BaheyaSarhan is strongly passionate about sustainable designs and model making. She is currently interning at an architectural practice based in Bahrain.

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