From beautiful beaches to sustainable cities, Foster + Partners is leaving quite an impression on the UAE

Winner: Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners may not yet have completed a project in the UAE, but it has had a presence in the Gulf since the completion of the Al Faisaliah Complex in Riyadh back in 2000. Now that the practice has opened an office in Abu Dhabi, it has a variety of exciting projects already coming out of the ground – the Index Tower in Dubai will be completed next year, and its work for Aldar Properties on the 560ha Al Raha Beach (pictured) and the 6.4ha Central Markets project is already bringing architecture of star quality to Abu Dhabi. Perhaps the practice’s greatest achievement has been another Abu Dhabi project: the concept for Masdar, the so-called “silicon valley of sustainability”, which has been designed as the most environmentally-friendly development in the UAE. The judges praised Foster for bringing another dimension to the region, producing architectecture that is not just iconic but intelligent and sustainable.

Runners up


Gensler has recognised that clients in the Middle East aren't just looking for shiny skyscrapers - practical, striking architecture is required for shops and workplaces too. The firm's designs for the Baroue store in Kuwait have resulted in one of the most colourful and exciting children's retail experiences outside of the US, while its concept for the Dubai Mercantile Exchange has provided the Middle East's first energy futures exchange with a sleek, modern home that reflects the project's progressive ideals. But if it is signature towers you're looking for, Gensler does those too - as proven by the Tameer Towers currently under construction in Abu Dhabi.


The British architect has been very successful in bringing its knowledge and expertise to the Gulf, designing buildings that respond to local materials and are embedded in sustainable principles. The Dubai International Finance Centre was modelled to mimic the shading of Arab villages with extensive use of stone cladding and traditional mashryabia screens and its Dubai World Trade Centre project is expected to win LEED Gold status. In the four years since setting up in Dubai, it has grown to an office of 100 people, with 15 million ft2 under construction. From humble beginnings, Hopkins is fast becoming one of the major players in the Middle Eastern design sector.