Jordanian architect Wael Al-Masri has several projects under construction, three of which were recently completed, including Al-Majaz Waterfront Development Phase Two and Al Bedayer Desert Camp, which was shortlisted for an MEA Award in 2018. While his practice moves ahead with projects like Kalba Waterfront in Sharjah, Al Maousherji Residential Compound in Kuwait, and a mosque in the north of Jordan, Al-Masri simultaneously serves as president of the Jordan Architects Society, where he’s responsible for bringing the country’s architects together to discuss current issues facing the industry and exchange knowledge. Al-Masri also participates in juries, conferences and workshops, and is a member of the international architectural competition for the Jerusalem Capital of Palestine project.
Jordanian architect Meisa Batayneh established her firm 14 years ago, and has since expanded it into a 68-person regional firm with offices in Amman and Abu Dhabi. A member of International Women Forum, Jordan Engineers Association and AE Business Council, Batayneh’s ongoing projects include Marsa Zayed in Jordan, Nudra Beach Villas in the UAE, Qasr Al Jurf in the UAE, Al Dissi Museum in Jordan, and The Village Square in Oman. While maisam architects’ main markets include the UAE, Jordan and Oman, it looks forward to contributing to Syria’s reconstruction efforts in the next few years.
A prominent architect, writer and community leader, Palestinian architect Suad Amiry is the founder of Riwaq and an award-winning author. She is also vice president of Birzeit University’s Board of Trustees and a board member for the Palestine Investment Fund and the Palestine Housing Council, as well as a jury member for The Palestine Award for Culture. Among her extensive project list, her most notable one is Riwaq’s 50 Villages project.
Launched in 2005, the 50 Villages project is a large-scale cultural heritage initiative with the primary aim to rehabilitate and revitalise Palestine’s most significant historic centres. Riwaq’s ‘Registry of Historic Buildings in Palestine’ (2006), which documented 50,320 historic buildings in 422 villages and towns in “Minor Palestine” (the West Bank and Gaza), determined that saving 50 villages and towns would result in saving almost 50 percent of the cultural heritage in rural Palestine.
Establishing her company 10 years ago, Saudi architect Sumaya Dabbagh has led the design on a number of award-winning projects, including the Mleiha Archaeological Centre in Sharjah. Dabbagh Architects is one of the first 10 practices in the GCC to be registered as an RIBA Chartered Practice, with Dabbagh herself assuming the chair position of the RIBA Gulf Chapter in 2015. In 2018, her seven-person team worked on Al Ain Museum in the UAE, a private mosque and multiple private villas. Each year, Dabbagh Architects donates two percent of its annual profits to local charities, and operates as a conscious and responsible employer – Dabbagh implemented an employment policy that promotes diversity, fair pay and equal opportunities.
Since establishing Killa Design four years ago, Shaun Killa has led his firm from strength to strength – reflected in its landmark project wins like Office of the Future and Museum of the Future (both in Dubai), and its 2017 win of Boutique Firm of the Year at MEA Awards. In 2018 alone, his firm worked on Museum of the Future, Address Jumeirah Gate (Dubai), Qattara Masterplan (Abu Dhabi), KSA East Masterplan and Vision, and a boutique hotel in Saadiyat Island (Abu Dhabi). In 2019, he looks to complete W Hotel in Mumbai, Crown Plaza Hotel Business Bay in Dubai, two resort hotels in Goa, and others.
The UAE’s sole architecture advisor, British architect Peter Jackson has long contributed to the development of the GCC as well as Africa, in which he was based for nearly 30 years, particularly in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Appointed architect advisor in His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah’s office, Jackson is tasked with managing and coordinating projects, both as a design manager and project manager.
Maintaining design direction, he prepares design briefs and appoints consultant teams. He also designs projects – two that he’s recently been responsible for include the Sharjah Islamic Botanic Garden and Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Center. In addition to buildings, Jackson has published a number of books that discuss the importance of vernacular architecture from different regions, including the UAE. His major projects to be completed in 2019 and 2020 include Sharjah Safari, a geology park, and the Mangroves & Turtles Visitor Centre.
A Toronto native, Phillip Jones has enjoyed nearly 30 years of work in the GCC. Known for a number of projects and masterplans across the region including the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies Public Realm Design, Lu’Luat Al Raha Masterplan, Jones has spearheaded the firm’s regional presence. An avid commentator, Jones also contributes to conversations on design technology and urban development and was shortlisted for Principal of the Year at MEA Awards 2018. His submission highlighted his leadership qualities, including his personal mentorship with several staff members and his open-door policy, which creates upbeat and inclusive studio culture.
A visiting critic at the American University of Sharjah, Jordanian architect Hani Fallaha co-leads the Dubai-based architecture firm Loci with partner Hamad Khoory. Under his leadership, the 19-person staff work across the industry’s many sectors including medical, residential, commercial and education. In 2018 alone, Loci completed multiple projects in the UAE, including the Emirates Hospital Day Surgery Centre, Emirates Towers Office, Ettihad Tower Offices and Meydan G+4 residential project. Fallaha was also highly commended at this year’s MEA Awards for Principal of the Year.
Melkan Gursel joined Turkish architecture firm Tabanlioglu Architects in 1995, and has since co-led the firm with Murat Tabanlioglu. A graduate of Istanbul Technical University and Polytechnic University of Metropolitan Catalonia for her Master of Architecture, Gursel’s influence on the firm is felt in the high-standard of architectural design as well as the rising percentage of female architects at the firm, which now sits at almost 60 percent.
She has lectured at various national and international platforms and serves as a jury member on several programmes – one of her contributions being RIBA Annie Spink Award for Excellence in Architectural Education. Gursel has also been selected as one of the “Europe 40 under 40” in 2008 and “Fifty under Fifty: Innovators of the 21st Century” in 2015. And in 2018, she jointly won MEA Awards’ Architect of the Year with partner Murat Tabanlioglu.
With eight years under his belt at the Tehran-based architecture firm Hajizadeh & Associates, founded by his brother Kourosh in 2008, Iranian architect Amir Hossein Hajizadeh has served as lead architect since 2013. Through design, Hajizadeh aims to create events, or interactions within communities and dialogue between people and place. His context-oriented design process results in projects that reflect the vernacular context of their environment, and the challenge of shaping an event for the end-user has allowed Hajizadeh to categorise his work – whether architectural or other – as conceptual art. His recent projects include the renovation of Saneyi House in Tehran, Tomb of Martyrs in Ahwaz, the rehabilitation of the Oudlajan neighbourhood in Tehran, and the interior design of Book Garden, also in Tehran. Upcoming projects for the practice include a five-star hotel in Mashhad, a cement factory in Zabol and two villas, all of which are all in Iran.
Sahel Al Hiyari
Founder of an award-winning, Amman-based architecture practice, the RISD and Harvard-graduate Sahel Al Hiyari has long contributed to architecture through design and academia. The firm’s work covers a wide spectrum of design-related disciplines, including urban design, interior and furniture design, architectural installations and exhibition design and boasts an extensive portfolio of built work perfectly suited for its context. In 2018, Al Hiyari worked on several confidential projects, as well as participated on the jury for the Omrania | CSBE Student Award for Architectural Design. His projects were also nominated at the Arab Architects Awards, held in Beirut, Lebanon. Al Hiyari is also a painter and has exhibited in Jordan, Lebanon and Italy.
MEA’s Principal of the Year 2017, Joe Tabet, has been largely recognised for successfully guiding his 49-member team to build for the future. The office culture emphasises not only quality, research-based design, but it also stays up to date with technology advancements and remains active in CSR initiatives. In 2018, JT+Partners was invited to attend the “Perspective Europe 2018”, an annual international architecture forum founded by The Plan magazine. JT+Partners’ 2018 projects include Morocco Winter Retreat Resort and Mango House in Seychelles.
Tabanlioglu Architects is one of the largest architecture firms in the Muslim world. With projects from Senegal to Kazakhstan, Ukraine to England, the Turkish practice has a staff of nearly 200 architects and offices across the Middle East. Together, Murat Tabanlioglu and Melkan Gursel continue to lead the firm successfully, imbuing the practice with their unrelenting architectural approaches.
A lecturer at universities and various international platforms, Tabanlioglu has also participated as a jury member for AIA and WAF, as well as for the 2013 cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. In 2014 he curated the first Pavilion of Turkey at the 14th Venice Biennale. Tabanlioglu’s current projects include the Ataturk Cultural Center renovation (Turkey), Marrakesh Congress Center (Morocco), Crystal Towers (UAE), and Tehran Office-LED Tower (Iran). In 2018, he jointly won MEA’s Architect of the Year with Gursel.
Since leaving his post as senior architect at Godwin Austen Johnson in 2013 and founding his own practice, Anarchitect, Jonathan Ashmore has grown his firm into a fully-fledged architect and design studio that delivers regional and international work. Anarchitect’s 2018 projects include Al Faya Lodge, a project that transformed two single-storey, stone-built buildings from the 1960s into a contemporary boutique lodge and restaurant. Ashmore has also participated in mentoring schemes, including CEF, organised by ADMAF and the British Council, and has given support to the development of RIBA Part II graduates looking to achieve their Part III. Looking ahead, Anarchitect’s ongoing project, the Harding Boutique Hotel in southern Sri Lanka is slated for completion in 2019, and serves as the first in a series of South and East Asian projects for Anarchitect. Ashmore is also an active design critic and regular architectural speaker across a variety of professional platforms.
Janus Rostock has recently joined Aecom as its regional director of design, planning and economics department, as well as its head of concept architecture. Formerly design director at Atkins, where Rostock’s most famous work remains to be the Dubai Opera building, he now supervises a team of 95 designers who work across five offices. Responsible for creative leadership, strategy, business growth, technical excellence and thought leadership, Rostock has supervised a number of projects across the GCC including the Godolphin Park Masterplan in Dubai, the Yas Acres Public Realm in Abu Dhabi and the Dubai Opera District Public Realm. Over the next year, he will oversee the development of Deira Waterfront in Dubai, as well as the strategic planning of MOH National Housing strategy in Saudi Arabia.
Co-founder of U+A, a large Dubai-based architecture firm that was shortlisted in four categories at MEA Awards 2018, Pedram Rad has worked alongside Martin Dufresne to grow the in-house team to 139 members. With 65 qualified architects – an above-average percentage – it would seem that Rad is successfully leading an increasingly influential firm.
This year, the architects at U+A saw the completion of a range of projects, including Deyaar Millennium Hotel, Swiss International School (phase three), Emaar South (phase one) and Rosebay Residential Development. 2019 will see even more residential, hospitality and mixed-use projects, such as four Emaar residential developments, Deyaar Midtown Development, Deyaar Millenium Hotel, Damac Ventura, Marriot Hotel and many more.
Most recently, as well, U+A has established a research and development sector under “U+A University”, which trains and assists team members, allowing them to grow within the company structure. It also keeps staff updated with design technology, offering BIM training, leadership training, and FIDIC contract administration. 2018 also saw U+A’s expansion westward, with a new office opening in the UK. According to Rad, the company’s most important corporate social responsibilities include bringing national and cultural approaches to business, and contributing to sustainable development, including the health and welfare of end-users.
The award-winning Palestinian architect Rasem Badran has long been considered a pioneer of modern Islamic architecture. The recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1995 for the Great Mosque of Riyadh, Badran has built an extensive portfolio of more than 400 reputable projects across the Middle East that span the religious, cultural, educational and hospitality sectors, as well as residential, commercial and healthcare. His office, Dar Al Omran, has three regional offices, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
In addition to his built work, which includes the Abu Dhabi Court House Complex, the King Abdul Aziz Historical Centre and the Bujeiri development, all of which have largely contributed to the development and notions of identity and context across the Middle East, Badran further contributes to regional architecture through public talks and engagement with regional initiatives, like the Tamayouz Excellence Award, for which he judges on the Rifat Chadirji Prize. With Badran receiving an award in the past year from the Society of Egyptian Architects for his achievements and contributions to art and architecture, his progression and promotion of modern Islamic architecture continues to inspire generations of Arab architects across the region.
Cairo-born and a graduate of Alexandria University, Mouaz Abouzaid is Dewan’s BIM manager and a former recipient of MEA’s Young Architect of the Year in 2016. In 2018, he was shortlisted across two categories at MEA Awards, including Architect of the Year (which was a joint submission with fellow Dubai-based Egyptian architect Islam El Mashtooly) and Concept Design of the Year for his Sheltainer project, which also won a WAF award. At Dewan, Abouzaid leads the implementation of design technology-related methodologies, from BIM to parametric design and building analysis. He also collaborates with internal and external stakeholders to improve project delivery outcomes through the application of appropriate design technology-related strategies. Abouzaid is also a teacher assistant at Ajman University in the UAE, and tailors his teaching method to suit experts in the industry. Before joining Dewan, he was lead design architect at Godwin Austen Johnson.
With three years under his belt as director of RSP Dubai, Ralf Steinhauer previously worked as senior associate at Woods Bagot and design architect at RMJM. Racking up a total of 13 years of experience in the region, Steinhauer’s leadership saw a successful 2017 with the completion of a massive extension to Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, which was shortlisted for an MEA Award in 2017. RSP, which was shortlisted for Large Firm of the Year at MEA Awards 2018, has completed designs for Emaar Business Park in Dubai Hills, Palm Mall on Palm Jumeirah, and looks to complete Deira Mall, a Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi and operational pavilions for Expo 2020 Dubai in 2019. Outside of RSP, Steinhauer is a guest lecturer at Canadian University Dubai.
Working across architecture, urbanism, interior design and research, Mohammad Khavarian, MEA’s Architect of the Year 2018, imbues his practice with an ethos centred on critical thinking, extending beyond the boundaries of architectural production to realise specific and unexpected solutions.
Khavarian’s work ranges from city-defining structures to cultural buildings, and his 16-person studio engages in non-architectural projects and interventions, from cultural art exhibitions to installations, graphic design to identity and positioning. In the past year, Khavarian’s practice has delivered a number of projects including Shiroud House in Mazandaran, Salian Office Building in Karaj, Natel Weekend Villa, Telghani Office Building in Tehran, and many others. In 2019, he looks to engage more with larger scale projects and continue delivering residential and commercial projects.
Establishing RAW-NYC in 2012 in New York, Iraqi architect Raya Ani runs the boutique interdisciplinary architecture studio with a focus on “uniquely crafted buildings, interior spaces and urban design solutions in the GCC area and worldwide”. With a six to eight-member team, Ani opened the studio’s Dubai office in 2014, and the female-led team works across various sectors including residential, commercial, masterplanning and interiors. In 2018, Ani saw a number of residential projects begin construction in the UAE. Serving as the 2017 President of the American Institute of Architects – Middle East Chapter, Ani launched the institute in Baghdad to empower Iraqi architects. Her studio also won first place for the Liberland competition, aimed at creating a new micro-nation to accommodate immigrants.
In 2018, Lebanese architect and academic, Hala Younes took home MEA Awards 2018 Residential Project of the Year for her recently completed Terrace House, located in Qalaat al Hsar. The past year also saw her curate the Lebanon Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2018, which represented the first of the country’s participation in the architecture event. Its theme was the the ‘Place That Remains’. Additionally, her five-person studio (all of which are qualified architects, with the majority being female) saw the completion and opening of Al Mantara Cultural Centre, a restoration project of four houses linked to the old fabric of Chatine, a Lebanese village. In 2019, Younes’ practice will continue working on its ongoing development in Timimoun, Algeria – a base camp covering a total area of 60,000m2.
Palestinian architect and academic Nadia Habash has contributed to countless renovation projects across Palestine, served as the first woman head of a regional branch of the Engineers Association of Jordan and Palestine, as well as city councillor in Ramallah, during which her main aim was to preserve the cultural heritage of the city.
Having worked with architecture greats like Peter Zumthor and Rasem Badran, Habash’s projects include the rehabilitation of Arraba Palaces and the Old Road, the rehabilitation and addition to St. Nicolas Elderly Bait Jala, and the revitalisation of Bethlehem Old Market. At the moment, Habash, who was highly commended for a Tamayouz Excellence Award for Women in Architecture and Construction is nearing the completion of another rehabilitation project — the Vernacular Heritage Pilot Enhancement Project in As-Samou’, located in the southernmost part of the West Bank.
Arash G Tehrani
Since founding his namesake design studio in 2013 in Alborz, Iran, Arash G Tehrani has worked to establish a humanitarian, research and design-driven practice. The firm’s achievements include the creation of cheap and easily-assembled shelter for victims of war or natural disasters, as well as the homeless. During 2018, he worked on five residential projects, including Villa Maa and Villa Rahmani, both of which are in Iran, as well as commercial projects such as Functionless Building and the Room of Requirements. He has also created a number of award-winning concepts, such as the Golshahr Mosque and Plaza. Tehrani is also a visiting lecturer and final project supervisor at Islamic Azad University and Alborz Architecture Center.
Founder of Lebanese architecture studio BAD. Built by Associative Data, Lebanese architect Ali Basbous has seen his practice grow steadily over the past year. Expanding from 19 team members in 2017 to 23 in 2018, his practice has developed a number of concept designs over the past 12 months, like ISF School, which was shortlisted at the MEA Awards 2018, as well as worked on various projects including One Independence Square and 36’ Citadelle in Lebanon, Alikimia Barcelona and CREP UAE. BAD. has also worked with NGOs to design schools for orphans in Lebanon. The practice’s research department BAD (Rx) is also involved in many social and welfare activities that spread DIY objectives across Asia and Africa. Although BAD.’s key markets include Lebanon, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, it aims to gain exposure in China over the next 12 months.
Currently overseeing Foster + Partners’ Dubai office and several projects in the region, such as a new cultural project for Sharjah and a mixed-use residential community in Dubai, Dara Towhidi is an RIBA chartered architect. He joined the internaitonal practice in 1997, after gaining first class honours from the Bartlett School of Architecture.
His experience includes leading high-profile international projects, which includes Kamakura House in Japan, Bund Financial Centre in Shanghai and Index Tower in Dubai, an 80-storey mixed-use project, which was later awarded the CTBUH’s Best Tall Building in the Middle East in 2011. He has also worked on the Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi and led the winning scheme for the Creative Community in Dubai’s Design District (d3). Towhidi takes an active role in the design community in Dubai, and speaks widely. He also maintains a role on the AUD Advisory Board.
Islam El Mashtooly
Winner of MEA’s Young Architect of the Year in 2015, Islam El Mashtooly has since left his post at Godwin Austen Johnson and joined Perkins+Will. In the three years since, El Mashtooly has enjoyed an eventful career path. In 2017, his work won international design awards, while he was also a finalist for the World Architecture Festival. The recognition has continued well into 2018, when he was shortlisted as a joint entry with Mouaz Abouzaid for MEA Awards’ Architect of the Year. In addition to his work with Perkins+Will, as well as his work curating the Egyptian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2018, El Mashtooly has participated (and was shortlisted) in multiple design competitions this year, including Tamayouz Excellence Award’s Rifat Chadirji Prize, which sought proposals a Baghdad’s Design Centre.
Ammar Al Assam
Previously executive director at regional architecture practice, Dewan Architects + Engineers, Ammar Al Assam has been with the firm for 15 years. While Dewan continues to focus on the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Iraq as its main markets, Al Assam, who was appointed CEO five years ago, has been responsible for growing the company internationally, particularly into Southeast Asia and Africa.
Dewan’s main projects that were completed in 2018 include Fountain Views by Emaar, First Avenue Mall, Riverwalk and Lapita Hotel at Dubai Parks & Resorts, and ENOC Tower in Business Bay. Moving forward, the firm looks to complete its design and supervision services for Port de la Mer, Fly Dubai Headquarters, Kempinski Hotel Congo, and Mamsha Saadiyat. Under Al Assam’s leadership, Dewan has assumed a number of corporate social responsibilities, including blood donation drives, waste recycling, food drives during Ramadan, tree planting, donation of computer equipment to schools, corporate marathons for charity and participation in the United Nations Global Impact.
The firm also works closely with Tamayouz Excellence Award, an international awards competition that recognises architects and projects from the Middle East and elsewhere. Dewan has provided internships for Tamayouz’s winners, and recently launched its own award with Tamayouz, which advocates architectural solutions for urban issues in Iraq.
Before signing on as principal at Perkins+Will’s Dubai office three years ago, Firas Hnoosh worked as design director for Gensler and BDP. A chartered member of the RIBA, an ARB registered architect and a LEED accredited professional, Hnoosh continues to guide the team at Perkins+Will through all project stages. In 2018, the firm completed the Emaar Boulevard Heights in Downtown Dubai, Kings College Hospital in Dubai, Marriott Diplomatic Quarter Hotel in Riyadh, Basaksehir Hospital in Istanbul, and the Address Hotel and Residences in Bahrain.
UK chartered landscape architect Duncan Denley has long been involved in landmark projects in the GCC, such as the Burj Khalifa, Mall of the Emirates and the Abu Dhabi central markets. Well-versed not only in creative design, but the technical complexities involved in such massive construction projects, he leads his team with equal doses of enthusiasm, passion and knowledge. In addition to desert INK’s The Block project, which was awarded best Landscape Project of the Year at MEA Awards 2018, the practice has worked on Fossil Rock, a boutique desert hotel in the UAE, Movenpick Resort in Ras al Khaimah, and the Rochester Institute of Technology campus in Dubai. Upcoming projects for the practice include the Sustainability Pavilion and the Opportunity Pavilion for Expo 2020 Dubai.
Having joined Loci three years ago, Roger Doyle, who was shortlisted for MEA Awards’ Architect of the Year 2018, is tasked with building the Loci brand and establishing it as a premium boutique architecture studio in the region. With his guidance, Loci promotes regional design in its work, which most recently includes Meydan G+4 Residential in the UAE, Emirates Towers Office in the UAE, Etihad Towers Office in the UAE and Medical Clinic Prototype in Somaliland. The company looks forward to completing three retail centres, two luxury villas, and two commercial projects in the UAE in 2019.
A graduate of the Architectural Association in London, Tariq Khayyat has worked as an architect and project designer since joining Zaha Hadid Architects in 2005. Currently based in Dubai to oversee all of the firm’s developments in the Middle East and North Africa, his projects include the Bee’ah Headquarters, Lusail Hotel, King Abdullah II House of Culture & Art, and the Bahrain International Circuit. In 2018, ZHA’s King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center in Saudi Arabia was shortlisted for MEA Awards’ Sustainable Project of the Year. The firm’s regional projects slated for completion in 2019 include The Opus in Dubai and the King Abdullah Financial District Metro Station in Riyadh.
Beirut-based architect Karim Moussawer founded his practice, Paralx eight years ago and has, in the time since, managed to turn out a large and diverse workload while maintaining a relatively small studio (which numbers at four qualified architects). A member of the American Institute of Architects and the Order of Engineers and Architects of Beirut, Moussawer’s key projects from 2018 include DL Project in Lebanon, Office Park in Saudi Arabia, Y Chalet in Lebanon (which was shortlisted for an MEA Award for Residential Project of the Year), and Debbas d3 showroom in the UAE. His studio currently looks forward to completing the first phase of Beirut Digital District, for which it’s handling the masterplan and design, as well as Ascott La Villas Hotel in Riyadh.
Having established his architecture practice, Archidentity, in 2009, Emirati architect Ahmed Abdulrahman Bukhash has long identified the need for developments to reflect the identity of their surrounding culture and embody the spirit of place. In the decade since launching his boutique firm, he has guided the nine-member team through successful project turnarounds in the UAE. In 2018 alone, Archidentity saw the completion of eight projects including the Kindergarten School Extension for Dubai Japanese School and five residential villa developments.
Jordanian architect, photographer and artist, Ammar Khammash founded his practice in the late 1980s, while he worked as a travelling architect with his office wherever his laptop was. In the decades since, he has enjoyed professional growth and the development of a design identity that has seen the completion of context-driven projects across the Levant.
His portfolio includes the Wadi Al Mujib Visitor Center, Feynan Eco-Lodge, restoration of Dana Village, and Columbia University Middle East, all of which are in Jordan. Specifying in ethnoarchaeology, Khammash has long been involved in significant historical-architectural constructions and renovations. Outside of built work, Khammash has published a number of works, including ‘Notes on Village Architecture in Jordan’ and ‘Life in Mud’. He also participates in architectural initiatives, such as the Tamayouz Excellence Award.
The recipient of Tamayouz Excellence Awards’ prize for women in architecture 2018, Rising Star, Egyptian architect Ebtissam Moustapha established her architecture and design practice six years ago to challenge the “conventional model of design production in Egypt” through advanced technology, research and fostering collaboration between education, practice and manufacturers. Hoping to nurture an international hub of design that can thrive in today’s economy, Encode offers architecture, design and furniture design services. Moustapha’s architectural projects include Namma residences, Ceaser Bay and the rehabilitation of Sednaoui Al Khazendar, all of which are in Egypt. Simultaneously, she also lectures at the Fine Arts Department of Architecture at Alexandria University.
As co-founder, design principal and partner at the Dubai-based architecture and design firm U+A, Martin Dufresne spearheads the project teams as lead architect. While 2018 saw the completion of a number of projects from U+A including Deyaar Millennium Hotel, Swiss International School (phase three), Emaar South (phase one) and Rosebay Residential Development, 2019 will see even more residential, hospitality and mixed-use projects, such as four Emaar residential developments, Deyaar Midtown Development, Deyaar Millenium Hotel, Damac Ventura, Marriot Hotel and many more. Most recently, as well, at U+A has established a research and development sector under “U+A University”, which trains and assists team members, allowing them to grow within the company.
Founder of Lacasa, one of the largest firms from the Middle East, Palestinian architect and engineer Emad Jaber has built a reputation for himself within the region’s industry over the past 40 years. With buildings across the Middle East and Africa bearing his company’s name, Jaber has maintained operations from Palestine to Saudi Arabia, Libya to Sudan. Throughout his tenure, he has been involved in well-known masterplan developments across the UAE, including Dubai Internet City and Jumeirah Beach Residences, as well as projects such as the Executive Towers and the Skycourt Towers.
This past year saw the company’s efforts in Palestine grow as well, with upcoming education and retail projects contributing to Ramallah’s built environment. Shortlisted for this year’s Principal of the Year at the MEA Awards, Jaber has also led his firm on new projects including The Exchange, Dubai Wharf, Aloft Hotel, the Art of Living Mall and Madinat Badar – all in Dubai. Lacasa’s landmark project at the moment, Mall of Palestine, is slated for completion by early 2019. While Lacasa’s most important markets remain the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the firm is also looking at Syria, where it believes opportunities will begin presenting themselves in the coming years.
Having joined Lacasa more than a decade ago, Ihab Nayal started out as one of the key designers at the then-young firm. Over time, he gradually assumed more responsibility and now runs the design department where he is in charge of his own projects as well as growing and managing the team. Some of his most high-calibre work includes the Dubai Wharf and Gate Village 11 in DIFC. Nayal’s recent projects in Dubai include The Exchange, Dubai Wharf, Aloft Hotel, the Art of Living Mall and Madinat Badar, as well as the Mall of Palestine in Ramallah – the firm’s landmark project at the moment. During 2019, Nayal will be supervising design services for a number of hotels, schools, masterplans and airport projects.
Founder of the award-winning Tehran-based architecture firm Hajizadeh & Associates, Kourosh Hajizadeh has long shown interest in the history and culture of his homeland. In 2001, he published a book titled ‘Dooman’, which explores the lost culture and historical values of Tabriz and included many of his personal sketches. As MEA’s Architect of the Year in 2013, Hajizadeh has shown great design integrity throughout his ever-expanding career and has led his office with a singular mentality that appreciates an artistic approach to architecture. He leads his team on a number of upcoming projects, including the renovation of Saneyi House, Tomb of Marturs in Ahwaz and a five-star hotel in Basra, Iraq.
Heading the international organisation’s Middle East office, which currently totals 79 employees (47 of which are qualified architects), Jonathan French is a UK-registered architect and member of the RIBA. Scooping up MEA Awards 2018 Principal of the Year, French oversaw the recent completion of Kempinski Hotel Muscat in Oman, Bluewaters Island Retail Development in the UAE and Shams Meera Residential Development, also in the UAE. In the coming 12 months, French’s focus for the company will be its expansion into the growing Saudi Arabian marketplace, as well as the completion of two UAE projects, which include CoEx Campus and 25hours Hotel.
Overseeing a growing team of established and emerging architects, Yahya Jan instils his architectural office with a commitment towards the environmental and social well-being of various communities across the GCC. In addition to a growing portfolio of tall buildings across the region, NORR collaborates with a number of organisations that strive to make positive impacts, like assisting those with special needs. Recently shortlisted for MEA Awards 2018’s Principal of the Year, Jan’s project list includes Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Shangri-La Hotel, Vida Residence, Creek Gate, Ajman Mall and Emaar Business Park – all in the UAE – as well as The Avenues, Kuwait; Jenan City, Saudi Arabia; Iran Mall, Iran; and Al Siraj Plaza, Oman.
MEA’s Architect of the Year 2017, Iranian architect Farshad Mehdizadeh established his Tehran-based practice five years ago. Through its projects and research, the 13-person team at FMZD hopes to define a new dynamic between architecture and metropolises, increasing the interaction between context and architecture. In 2018, it worked on various projects in Iran, including Sabzevar Dome House, Barad Factory, Namakabrood Commercial Centre (in collaboration with Hooman Talebi), Avishan Town Masterplan and Velenjak Residential Apartment. FMZD has a number of exciting projects in the pipeline, too, including the Persepolis masterplan, Tehran Carpet City Commercial Centre, and a variety of residential projects.
Nasser Abulhasan co-founded the Kuwait-based AGi Architects with Joaquin Perez-Goicoechea in 2006. Since then, he has completed several projects across urban design, planning, interiors and industrial design, and has been honoured on several occasions both nationally and internationally. AGi’s recent built work in Kuwait includes Wall House, Wind Tower, as well as Wafra Living and Tamdeen Square. Beyond architectural work, Abulhasan has held teaching positions as adjunct professor at the Boston Architectural Center and Kuwait University.
With 24 years at P&T Architects and Engineers, Stephan Frantzen, design director of the international firm’s Dubai branch, has delivered work in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and elsewhere. Frantzen’s projects across the Middle East and Africa include Tanja Waterfront in Morocco, South West Residential Development in Bahrain, a residential tower in Nigeria, Hameni Tower in the UAE, and Nurai Island Resort (phase three) also in the UAE. For 2019, P&T’s list of projects include Dubai CommerCity in the UAE, Security Forces Medical City in Saudi Arabia and Logistics Centre at Manama Airport in Bahrain. Frantzen also supports the team’s corporate social responsibilities, which include promoting and supporting environmental awareness and sustainable design initiatives.
Working alongside Gijo Paul George, the award-winning Kuwaiti architect Hend Almatrouk has lead the boutique firm Studio Toggle from strength to strength. Growing the staff to a total of 10 employees across two branches (one in Kuwait and one in Portugal), Almatrouk has spearheaded a number of successful developments in the past year, with recent and ongoing projects mostly in Kuwait, including Luminous Drapes, an outdoor installation; Bean2Bar, an interior design project for a coffee shop in Kuwait; Ternion, a series of three adjacent houses; Koob, a specialty coffee shop; and Mishref Villa, a private residence. Her practice’s CSR initiatives include partnering with IKEA and Nuqat to design and execute urban pavilions for enhanced social interactions during events.
Mohamed Al Assam
Iraqi architect Mohammed Al Assam founded his architecture firm more than 30 years ago, and in the decades since, it has grown to be a key international firm with branches across the Middle East. As chairman of the board of directors, Al Assam has participated in setting the strategic direction of the firm. With his sound awareness in business development, the firm has achieved several international awards and nominations.
Dewan is currently staffed with over 400 professionals working on an extensive portfolio of projects, which includes Fountain Views by Emaar, First Avenue Mall, and ENOC Tower, all in Dubai. Additionally, Dewan (and Al Assam himself) participate in various initiatives, including Tamayouz Excellence Award, with which the firm has launched an award for architecture in the past year that seeks to raise awareness about urban development issues in Iraq.
Recently appointed to principal and regional design leader, Matthew Engele won MEA Awards’ Architect of the Year in 2016 and has previously worked at OMA and Zaha Hadid Architects. His most notable projects are Dubai Design District (its masterplan and phase one), Stone Towers in Cairo, Shenzhen Stock Exchange, Mulberry Park Heights in Dubai and residential projects in Bahrain, Serbia and Saudi Arabia. He has personally sought to increase female employment at Woods Bagot’s Dubai studio, championed the company’s intern programme and promoted sustainable design within the firm’s projects. In 2018, he saw the completion of various residential developments in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
A former senior associate and urban design practice leader at Woods Bagot and associate principal at Perkins+Will, Steven Velegrinis has recently joined Aecom and oversees masterplanning, urban planning and landscape architecture projects across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia. Such projects have included Damac Heights in Dubai, Clemenceau Medical Centre in Dubai, King Faisal Corniche Development in Bahrain, and East Sitra housing project, also in Bahrain. Aecom participates in a number of initiatives including Engineers without Borders, which looks to provide necessities such as clean water, power and sanitation. In 2019, Velegrinis’ department will be looking at expanding in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Rounding out his 29th year with the award-winning, Dubai-based architecture and design firm Godwin Austen Johnson (GAJ), Brian Johnson has maintained an almost constant presence in the GCC since 1975. Opening the GAJ headquarters in Dubai in 1991, Johnson played a large role in modernising traditional architecture across the UAE, with his work comprising some of the country’s most recognisable buildings, such as the Dubai Creek Golf Club, Bab Al Shams and the Arabian Court at the One&Only Royal Mirage.
With his continuous guidance, GAJ has gone on to complete a number of projects in 2018, including Al Seef in Dubai, Al Bait in Sharjah and Dubai College. GAJ is currently working on a diverse range of projects, including the Vida Dubai Creek Harbour, Arcadia Secondary School in Dubai, DoubleTree by Hilton in Sharjah, the DoubleTree by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn, both in Riyadh. Today, GAJ’s key markets are the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
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