On 15 December 2019, RIBA announced the opening of its new office in Sharjah - the first outside of the UK. With over forty high-profile architects, government officers, architectural stakeholders and press in attendance, the event marked a key milestone for RIBA, its partners and members.
The launch commenced with a welcome lunch at Shababeek Restaurant, Al Qasba. Those attending all expressed their excitement at the opening of the new office in the region.
Following lunch, speeches took place at Masrah Al Qasba theatre, starting with an introduction from Clem Brohier, COO of RIBA, who discussed RIBA's functions and plans for the Gulf.
Clem talked about the work RIBA has been undertaking in the Gulf region over the last decade. He also highlighted RIBA's success in recent months, including the signing of an MoU between RIBA and Dubai Land; the talks that have been delivered; the discussions and outreach activities at Cityscape Dubai and Dubai Design Week, plus the major placemaking symposium that took place in Kuwait.
The new office will act as the operational centre for RIBA, furthering dialogues and conversations on good design, and expecting to facilitate many more activities and programmes across the Gulf.
The introduction was followed by opening remarks from Mehdi Taher, HM Deputy Consul General from the British Embassy in Dubai, who talked about supporting British firms, trade, and the landscape in the UAE.
The office opening was concluded with a presentation on 'Sustainable Futures' by Dara Towhidi, a partner and architect at Foster + Partners.
Dara gave a brief overview of over 51 years of sustainable innovation, with fascinating examples of sustainable buildings around the world and the work that went into them. Due to the world changing rapidly, there are many things we can learn from the past, and so the talk was inspiring for architects that wish to continue developing high-quality, sustainable projects.