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Qatar has a more guided development plan than Dubai, says Rem Koolhaas

Rem Koolhaas spoke about OMA’s work in Qatar during his open air public lecture in Dubai last week, when the firm inaugurated its first building in the UAE.

“Qatar is very different from Dubai in a sense that there is much less tolerance for laissez-fair and there is more explicit guidance in what direction development should take place,” he said.

“What I think is happening in Qatar is that categories that we all consider separately are merged into a single condition and I think the equivalence of all these elements is really a radical departure from the separation that we still believe in, and I think that is quite an original and promising thing that has been emerging, not only from Qatar and but from the Middle East as a whole.”

He argued than in the Netherlands for instance, various categories are often separated and given an order of importance, from sciences to arts and then sports. Qatar, he said, has been able to merge them together.

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He added that the ability to introduce these categories together is an interesting phenomenon of 21st century culture.

He also spoke about the two buildings that are currently being completed in Qatar that have been designed by OMA.

The Qatar Foundation Headquarters and the Qatar National Library are located in Education City in Doha, a cluster of universities and related institutions, constructed under the guidance of the Qatar Foundation which is massive investor in education and culture in the Gulf country.

Speaking of the headquarters, Koolhaas said: “Qatar Foundation, interestingly enough, didn’t want to have an identifying mark or brand or icon [on its building] so there is a very discrete entrance [to the building].”


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It features a garden which is, at the same time, the roof of a parking garage when you enter.

“The plan is a little tower for the leadership of the foundation with an L-shaped office building with many connections,” he said.

“What the building shows is the competence and the ability of this environment to not only build a building but also at this point commit to a very sophisticated entity.”

Koolhaas said that more details on both projects will be unveiled in April.

Earlier last this year, we unveiled some images by New York City-based photographer Yueqi Li show of the soon-to-be-opened Qatar Foundation building.

Instagram users have also been posting images of OMA’s Qatar Library which show that the building is also nearing completion.

During his talk, Koolhaas also revealed projects that never made it off the ground in the Middle East, including Dubai, Sharjah and Damascus.