Dabbagh Architects, RIBA Chartered Architects, RIBA Gulf Chapter, Saudi architects, Sumaya Dabbagh

Sumaya Dabbagh

Principal, Dabbagh Architects and Chair, RIBA Gulf Chapter

Establishing her company almost 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 at RIBA Gulf chapter in 2015. The next 12 months will see a number of residential projects across the emirates, as well as a private mosque and a confidential museum project in the UAE.

‘This region needs to improve the way things are being done,’ says chair of RIBA Gulf Chapter Sumaya Dabbagh

According to Sumaya Dabbagh, chair of the RIBA Gulf Chapter, architecture isn’t just a commercially-led endeavour, and industry professionals across the region need to start meeting higher standards.

“Architecture is a responsibility,” she said. “When I came here, after working in London and Paris, it was clear to me that this region needs to improve the way things are being done, and it needs the help of organisations that have been doing that for a long time.”

According to Dabbagh, her priorities since taking on the chair position of the RIBA Gulf Chapter two years ago include bringing awareness to the value of the organisation, improving standards in practice and design, and improving the environment of the industry.

“We need to bring about the awareness that architecture is a responsibility and isn’t just about business. That trade mentality is very strong in the Gulf — this region grew from trade and commerce, and the architectural profession needs to transcend this mindset in order to start to really address fundamental issues that we have in the region.”

Dabbagh added that the RIBA Gulf Chapter has been building momentum around the organisation. Her chairman predecessor set up RIBA part three exams in the UAE, while the organisation has also worked on validating educational institutions in the region.

“Two schools of architecture in the UAE are currently in the process of being validated,” she said.

The full story will be in Middle East Architect’s April issue.