Nowadays the skyline of the Middle East’s largest city is as instantly recognisable as any global metropolis.

The glaringly obvious fact, when you look a little closer, is that Dubai’s buildings - unlike the historic buildings of older cities - clearly cannot be prefaced by earliest or ancient.

However, the voracious appetite for iconic architecture was such that - what the city lacks in antiquity - it certainly makes up for in most-luxurious, tallest and breathtakingly space-age.

Indeed the Middle East is now the hub of superlative modern design, attracting global talent and ‘starchitect’ designers to the region.

Image by Thomas Kurmeie


The regions design has evolved over time. In the past the focus was on speed and delivery. There was a huge appetite for projects that could make the city shine in the global spotlight; and they wanted them built fast!

Now a much more sophisticated approach has emerged. Clients and developers have become savier - recognising that quality design equals value development.

There is a huge appetite for originality. Fresh, creative concepts and solid, quality architecture and design.

Competitiveness in the design industry has surged, which also plays its part in raising the design bar to new heights.

Designers are responding to clients demands by creating diverse projects with much more to offer in terms of placemaking, town planning and activation.

Image of Saraya Towers in Abu Dhabi designed by dwp


As designers, through technology and social media, the world is within our reach. We are progressively challenged to provide original and better quality design. Now, more than ever, we see ‘hybrid’ projects developed in the region that create community and a sense of place.

For example, at grassroots level, this mature focus turns design inward; towards urban renewal. Older areas, such as the Creek, are being restored; and urban spaces are becoming more pedestrianised.

Marsa Al Seef, for example, a long ribbon development across from the Creek took a slither of land and successfully enlivened an old part Dubai.

New architecture is integrated into the older style architecture, which in turn, at the far end of the Creek, becomes completely original architecture.

Concept masterplan by dwp for a mixed-use residential, hospitality, leisure and commercial development in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

I would love to see even more of this across the city. Dubai in particular has a wonderful urban footprint and there is a great opportunity for urban infill and integration in the future.

It is great to witness, first hand, how design in this region is evolving. Once upon a time, design in the region was very much led by the West.

Today however, rather than following trends from other parts of the world, I believe the Middle East is increasingly becoming a trend leader. Dubai especially, has come of age.

Image of the Marsa Al Seef development

For more articles like this, subscribe to our newsletter.


  • Supporting Association

    AAID high resolution 180 x 120 px.jpg
  • Supporting Association

  • Premium Media Partner

    Premium Media Partner CID logo no tag-line 180 x 120 px.jpg
  • Premium Media Partner

    CW resized.jpg
  • Official Lighting Media Partner

  • Premium Media Partner

  • Supporting Association

    logo 180 x 120.jpg (2)
  • Premium Media Partner

  • Entertainment Partner

    LA PERLE LOGO 180 x 120 px.png
  • Lead Partner for The Trend Tour

    Love That Design (180x120).png
  • Premium Media Partner

    Premium Media Partner ME Architect logo 180 x 120 px.jpg
  • Official Airline Partner

  • Premium Media Partner

    Logo_POS-LADENBAU_gold (180x120).jpg
  • Travel & Visa Partner

    trAvZed_180 x 120.jpg
  • Recruitment Partner

    The Right Job Logo (180x120).png
  • Official Construction Intelligence Partner

    vs.png (1)
  • Official Show Magazine Partner – INDEX HOME

    InsideOut Logo (180x120).jpg

INDEX Media Partners

  • AEC Online

  • Architecture and Interiors Panorama

    AIIP logo 180 x 120 px.jpg
  • Asia Today

    AsiaToday-Logo-180 x 120.jpg
  • AsiaTradeHub

    AsiaTradeHub logo 180x120px.png

    beladara logo with black tagline.png

    logo nowe 180x120px.jpg

  • Ceramicanda SRL

  • Ceramic Focus

    focus logo 180 x 120.png
  • Collezioni International Fashion Magazines

    logo_COLLEZIONI Int. (180x120).jpg
  • Compasses

    Compasess logo x Index 180 x 120.jpg
  • Construction and Architecture Update

    C&A LOGO.jpg
  • CovetED Magazine

    logo-site-01.jpg (1)
  • Design 4 2day

    logo design42day.png
  • Design Diffusion

    DDN_LOGO 180 x 120 px.jpg
  • Design Insider

  • dezeen

    Dezeen Logo (180x120).jpg
  • Divisone Contract

    logo_DC_180 x 120.jpg (1)
  • Dubai Blog Network

    Logo Dubai Blog 3D for black background - Copy.png
  • e-architect

  • Encyclomedia

  • Exhibitions For You

    Exhibition For You Logo (180x120).jpg
  • ExportHub

    logo-EH 180x120.jpg
  • Eye of Dubai

    Eye of Dubai 180 x 120 px.jpg
  • Eye of Riyadh

    Eye of Riyadh logo 180 x 120 px.jpg (1)
  • G & G Magazine

    G&G _ Magazine logo white.jpeg
  • Gulf Construction

    GC Logo 180 x 120.jpg
  • Gulf Industry

    Gulf Industry Mag Logo(new) 180 x 120.jpg
  • Homes Mauritius

  • Hospitality Mauritius

  • Italian Bark

    Italian Bark 120x120.jpg
  • Lamasat

  • Mebelny Biznes

    Mebelny Biznes logo.jpg

    MySolutionInfo 180 x 120 px.jpg
  • myUAEguide

    myUAEguide logo.jpg
  • NA-Nuevo Azulejo

    log NA_english01.jpg
  • Stone Review

    logo 180 x 120.jpg (1)
  • Textiles Para El Hogar

  • The Interior Design Italia

    LOGO TID 180 x 120.jpg

    THEsignspeaking_logo_2017_BLACK-GRAY 180 x 120 px.jpg
  • TradeKey


    TradeWheel (180x120).jpg
  • Treniq

    Treniq Logo Corrected Black.png
  • Wood in Architecture MENA

    ir_WIA MENA logo01.jpg