RMJM Architecture in MENA
RMJM has maintained a unique and long lasting relationship with the Middle East and North Africa. The relationship has seen the firm engage in some of the region’s most recognisable projects whilst surviving a number of severe economic downturns together.
The early ‘60s saw RMJM enter Libya for the first time, commissioned to develop a masterplan for a township outside Tripoli. This led to a series of major housing, tourism and cultural projects in Libya over the next 20 years. RMJM returned to Libya again in 2009 following a commission to design new Universities in Bani Walid and Zliten. Despite receiving widespread acclaim, the projects would not proceed following the 2011 revolution.
RMJM’s presence in the MENA region in the early ‘60s would also lead the firm to secure some high profile civic African architecture commissions. Working for the United Nations Development Programme in 1973, RMJM led a team of consultants in developing a masterplan for cities in the Suez Canal zone of North East Egypt, virtually abandoned after the ‘Six Day War’ of 1967. In the same country, over 30 years later, RMJM was appointed to develop a masterplan for a new city outside Cairo.
RMJM’s long relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia began in 1968 following the implementation of regional planning as a positive element of government economic policy. RMJM was invited to prepare a plan for the Western Region of the Kingdom together with masterplans and detailed studies for the commercial capital and the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah. With no maps or reliable information on which to base a plan, it was a formidable challenge. There was a significant language barrier, the need to secure the confidence of local consultants and, above all, the need to understand and respect Islam and the cultural environment it expressed. To begin to address these challenges, RMJM established an inter-disciplinary team of architects, engineers, geographers and statisticians in Jeddah who would work on this project well into the mid ‘80s.
RMJM’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia would continue into the 21st Century. Today two iconic towers in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District are nearing completion and RMJM are once again working with the Kingdom’s Ministry of Interior. RMJM currently operates from two Saudi studios, RMJM Riyadh and RMJM Jeddah, whilst continuing to work around the Kingdom.
In July 1971, shortly before the formation of the United Arab Emirates, RMJM established a studio in Dubai. RMJM was the first registered international consultant used by the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Over the next 40 years, the firm participated in some of the UAE’s most prominent and celebrated projects, including the world renowned Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the Dubai International Convention Centre (DICC), The Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) and the world’s most leaning building, Capital Gate in Abu Dhabi.
During the Global Financial Crisis, RMJM’s decision to maintain its international office in Dubai, as many of its international competitors retrenched to their home markets, was widely publicised. Recently RMJM has engaged in significant projects with the Omani Government in Muscat, the Bahraini Government in Manama and the Iraqi Government in Baghdad. In Qatar, RMJM have designed the signature Dubai Tower for the Doha Corniche.