Part of Kuwait’s larger vision to reimagine the ancient Silk Road trade route linking China and the Persian Gulf, the AED1.1 billion Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah Causeway was completed in May 2019. It slashes travel time between Kuwait City and Subiyah (home of the Silk City development) from 90 minutes to less than 30.
37th Most Influential Project of 2020
Designed to be the “tallest, largest and smartest” zero-energy government building in the world by sponsor Dubai Energy and Water Authority, this AED$1 billion project, launched late last year, pierces the Dubai skyline like a glass-and-steel sail—a visual declaration that UAE’s largest city is a trailblazer of sustainability and innovation.
47th Most Influential Project of 2020
A slew of celebrities—designer Victoria Beckham, actor Johnny Depp, supermodel Naomi Campbell—flocked to the desert for the mega-museum’s opening in March 2019. Located on the edge of Doha’s waterfront, the building appears to rise from the sea, tethered to the shore by two pedestrian bridges and a road bridge. Designed by Jean Nouvel, the US$434 million project was constructed out of interlocking discs that are not only visually striking, but protect visitors from the desert heat.
The United Arab Emirates Space Agency launched its robotic spacecraft, Hope, to Mars in July. It’s slated to spend about two years in orbit, monitoring a full cycle of Martian seasons. The craft was assembled on U.S. soil as part of the team’s outreach to partners with strong space experience—helping avoid common first-mission woes, while building an ecosystem for future missions.
The world’s second-largest offshore oil field is undergoing a AED$30 billion expansion. In an effort to increase production capacity to 1 million barrels per day by 2024, Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. partnered with U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil and Japanese oil company Inpex Corp. for the project. The organizations awarded the front-end engineering design contract in May 2019.
Once complete, the 270,000-square-meter (2.9-million-square-foot) International Congress Center in Jerusalem will be the largest conference center in the Middle East. Designed by Studio Fuksas, the mixed-use project will expand and revamp an existing convention center and concert hall, plus add a hotel, two business towers and a public plaza.
The ME Dubai hotel tucked inside this mixed-used building is the only hotel in the world with the distinction of having both its interiors and exteriors designed by the late starchitect Zaha Hadid. Opened in February, it does not disappoint: The building looks like a giant cube with big blob punched out in the middle. But it’s actually a pair of towers connected at the top and bottom to create the effect. And inside, it’s all curves, from the furniture to the balconies.
The AED$2.7 billion megaproject is part of Saudi Arabia’s plan to jump-start tourism. Spanning 28,000 square kilometers (11,000 square miles) of the country’s Red Sea coast, the wannabe destination spot will eventually include luxury beach and mountain resorts, wellness centers, homes and marinas with capacity to host up to 1 million visitors a year. Construction began in March 2019, and the first phase of the project is scheduled to be completed in 2022.
A new Instagram-ready showpiece could be coming to the United Arab Emirates in the form of a striking bridge for pedestrians and cyclists. The footbridge would connect Dubai to the artificial Creek Island, and the design was unveiled in March. The two-story bridge, designed by IJP Architects and structural engineers AKT II, would be made from lightweight, intricately patterned steel and is meant to pay homage to traditional Islamic art and architecture.
Saudi Arabia’s largest leisure and commercial development is coming to the capital city of Riyadh. The initial phase of the AED$3.5 billion project, awarded in September 2019, will include a 1,300-store megamall and gardens. Once complete, the 1.9 million-square-meter (20.5 million-square-foot) development will also feature five towers with commercial and residential facilities and a quartet of hotels.