The award-winning Architect Zaha Hadid has done it again with the innovative design of the Dubai's Opera House. Its structure melds into the sloped sand dunes of the Arabian Desert, which are unique to the area. The Opera House likely contributed to Dubai being rated, "One of the best places to live in the Middle East in 2011."
#19 Museum of Middle Eastern Modern Art
Its enormous modern architecture appears like a landed spaceship! The futuristic building houses retail space, an exhibition hall, amphitheater, art galleries and museum. Launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, this building illustrates that Dubai Creek is a "new cultural hub and a global city."
#18 King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center
The Iraqi-British architect, Zaha Hadid's new KAPSARC is a symbol of environmental innovation. "pools of recycled water naturally cool the air and create a habitable climate; gardens of endangered desert plants surround and weave between the architecture; the walls radiate out to offer both symbolic and literal protection." It's a fabulous oasis within a manmade structure!
#17 Wadi Rum Resort: Jordon
This luxury eco-resort is carved into the desolate stretch of Jordanian wilderness desert cliffs and designed to symbiotically blend into the existing natural terrain of the rock. The architects, Oppenheim are overseeing it's scheduled completion by 2014 and it appears it will become one of the prettiest vacation retreats ever seen.
Its dramatic name reflects a museum of Libyan history and national story for locals and internationals. The tented or origami-like structure houses permanent and special exhibitions to "educate future generations on the price of conflict." Architects of the London-based, Metropolitan Workshop won a competition to design the museum close to the Hall of the People in Tripoli.
#15 Expo City: Cairo Egypt
Can you recognize the signature design of Zaha Hadid? Her composition of architectural soft shapes and swirls translates into separate yet related buildings for meetings and conferences.Waterway canals are woven-in to incorporate a balance to the arid environment.
#14 Masdar Institute Campus
Architects Foster and Partners reinterpreted the mashrabiya, or traditional Islamic latticed windows for the institute. The interior pattern of light and shade are breathtaking! Additionally the windows are constructed with sustainably developed, glass-reinforced concrete, colored with local sand to integrate the desert landscape and to minimize maintenance.
#13 Bank Muscat: Muscat, Oman
Oman’s largest bank has a new headquarter. This fusion of modern and Islamic design influences is by Atkins. White screens encase the building with geometric floral pattern similar to mashrabiya windows, they allow natural light to come in while keeping the building cool. The interior changes the way people work, with colorful seating areas and glass walkways that make it look more like a "trendy university campus than a bank."
#12 Museum of Islamic Art: Doha, Qatar
Resembling a cubist painting, the Museum of Islamic Art owns one of the largest collections of Islamic art in the world. It's a marvel of design by Architect I.M. Pei, who, 91 years old at the time, came out of retirement to create the project! Additionally the futuristic building is on it's own island and shares an oasis of green parklands.
#11 New Parliament Complex: UAE
The design by Erlich Architects is a striking 100-meter-diameter dome structure, and has been described as a "flower-of-the-desert." It's a shaded micro-environment that casts Islamic patterns of light majestically into the marbled Assembly Hall inside.
#10 Aldar Central Market
Abu Dhabi's Central Market is one of the oldest city sites in UAE. Rising above a planned mall district, the three high-rise towers have smooth reflective facades that are both subtle yet impressive. The towers house a mix of: retail shops, offices, residential and hotel accommodations.
#9 Kingdom Tower: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Kingdom Tower will be the centerpiece and ﬁrst construction phase of the $20 billion Kingdom City development. It's mixed-use featuring a luxury hotel, ofﬁce space, serviced apartments, luxury condominiums and the world’s highest observatory. The Tower’s height will be taller than Burj Khalifa (tallest structure in the world at 2,171 feet). The estimated completion date is 2017.
#8 Urban Oasis: Manama, Bahrain
This 'urban oasis' is a design proposal for a large-scale public square by the Paris-based firm, Influx Studio. It's urban location sits on the city's historical new modern waterfront. The project provides a metropolitan platform and links the waterway to urban living, encouraging pedestrians to meet and stay under a sheltering canopy structure.
#7 Massar Children’s Discovery Centre: Damascus, Syria
The proposed building comprises of an exhibition space, library and education space. It was to be opened in 2013, but with the ongoing Syrian civil war, there's not been an update. The centre would be a science-based, hands-on experience for young Syrians. The design by, Martha Schwartz Partners is inspired by the Damask rose.
#6 Zayed National Museum: Abu Dhabi, UAE
The emerging Saadiyat Island Cultural District is gaining a new museum. The design houses galleries within five feather-like forms reaching-up to the sky. They function as solar thermal towers and contribute to a highly progressive eco-environment strategy. The museum's estimated completion date is late 2013, the architects are Foster and Partners.
#5 Lusail Iconic Stadium: Qatar
The proposed a world-class football stadium will be built in Lusail, Qatar and in time for the finals of the exciting 2022 FIFA World Cup! Designed by architects Foster and Partners, the stadium will have a capacity of over 86,000 fans.
#4 Masdar City Center: Abu Dhabi
Architects, LAVA won a competition to design the urban centre of Masdar, called the "Oasis of the Future". Containing a mediated outdoor space, and an open experience with solar-powered sunflower umbrellas, it's a visionary eco-city in the desert. It has zero-carbon, zero-waste!
#3 Olaya Dune Park
Why not have a planted and accessible roof space with a rolling garden of palm trees? Designers Gerber Architekten did just that, being inspired by the beauty of sand dunes in Saudi Arabia. The Olaya Dune Park will be in the center of the capital and conveniently located on top of the Olaya Metro Station.
#2 Kuwait International Airport
It's said that architects Foster and Partners designed the airport's canopy to appear like fluid, organic forms emulating the movement of Kuwait's traditional dhow sail boats in the Red Sea. The shaded plaza below is supported by tapering concrete columns and is the hub for Jazeera Airways and Kuwait Airways.
#1 Kingdom Centre Skyscraper: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
It is the second tallest skyscraper in the country, and the world's third tallest building after the Shanghai World Financial Center and Tuntex Sky Tower. The architecture firm, Ellerbe Becket completed it in 2002. A mirrored outer shell makes the high-rise appear like an illusion on the urban horizon. Marvelous!