This developers of this ‘heritage island’ scheme have created a vivid celebration of Arabic history and culture.

39 Essex Street
Sponsored by 39 Essex Street

Thirty Nine Essex Street

39 Essex Street Barristers Chambers are delighted to sponsor the Cultural Award. 39 Essex Street is regarded as a leading London Chambers. Said to be a "force to be reckoned with" by Chambers and Partners in construction and engineering law, our 84 members also provide expertise in commercial, energy, insurance, oil and gas, professional negligence, planning and environment law.

Winner: A’ samaliah island

The relentless speed and ambition of the Middle Eastern industry has allowed the equivalent of 200 years of progress to happen in less than 20. Until comparatively recently, the cities of the United Arab Emirates were little more than trading stations, but the crafts and traditions of the Arab elders who created the foundations for the bustling UAE we know today should not be forgotten. As such, the basis for A´ Samaliah Island is that you can’t know where you´re going if you don´t know where you´re from.

A´Samaliah Island, about 12km to the north-east of Abu Dhabi, has been designated a “heritage island”, split into three zones which commemorate and celebrate Arabic history and culture.

There is an Arabic sports zone, a desert and wildlife zone and a heritage zone. While the sports zone boasts a camel centre and international shooting range, and the desert and wildlife zone a turtle hatchery and aquarium, the heritage zone is the most important of the three. It is a centre of traditional architecture that portrays the influences of Omani settlers in 3000 BC.

The UK-based consultant Pell Frischmann undertook a variety of cultural, historical and environmental studies to better understand the specific nature of the challenge. The result is a development that pays homage to the founders of modern Arabic culture.

A coastal village modelled on a traditional pearl-fishing nestles alongside a mosque modelled on the famous Al Bidayah Mosque in Fujairah.

The latter was designed as a peaceful centre of worship that allows people of all cutures and ages to discover how their ancestors once lived. The project team made particular efforts to source authentic architectural styles and materials, and trained workers to master the skills once prevalent in the region.

Pell Frischmann and its partners incorporated many traditional ventilation and passive shading methods that have proved that sustainability can be something instilled from the most humble principles.