Future 50
A New Generation of Leaders Has Arrived

For bringing a new voice to Saudi Arabian design—while still paying homage to the region’s traditions

Shahad Alazzaz approaches each project in storyteller mode. "I walk into the design studio every morning extremely eager to start a new story of a new project," she told KAWA News. Just five years after the 20-something launched her own architecture firm, Azaz Architects, people are paying attention to the stories Alazzaz seeks to tell. 

The firm’s portfolio now spans residential and commercial buildings, interior and exterior design, master planned developments and high-end furnishings. No matter the project, Alazzaz manages to blend minimal, modern design with the region’s ornamental, classical aesthetic. Her well-known Sa’af project during Dubai Design Week, for example, put the traditional craft of palm frond weaving front and center.  

That tension between old and new is a direct reflection of her biography. Born in Riyadh, she studied architecture in the U.K. before joining the esteemed Spanish studio Rafael de La-Hoz. There, her ability to juggle multiple projects of various sizes so impressed her boss that she was appointed to oversee the company’s Middle East office. 

Once home, though, Alazzaz struck out on her own with a mission to shift the narrative for design in the region. Her ultimate objective? "Improving the quality of life," she told DesignWanted. "A building could change someone’s life, create humor and build hope. This is what we focus on when a project starts."