Al Raha Beach

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates



Special Structure Designers

Landscape Architects

Strategy + Branding

Al Raha Beach is an ambitious mixed-used development aimed at creating a new waterfront city on a 5.2m sqm site in Abu Dhabi. Built on an 11km long strip of mostly reclaimed waterfront, Al Raha’s eleven precincts are intended to house 120,000 residents alongside a mix of hotels, businesses, shops and social infrastructure. In the climate and society of the Arabian Middle East, the quality of the after-dark environment is critical to the commercial success of the development.

Speirs + Major were appointed to work with the masterplanning and public realm team (Esquisse Design Studio and EDAW) to create a thorough strategy for light across the development, and then to develop concepts and schematic design for the public realm including street lighting, pedestrian areas, landscape areas and parks, canal-side walks and beachfronts.

In addition, we worked with architect-engineers RFR on the transport infrastructure - feature bridges, ferry terminals, water taxi stops and a light rail system including stations above and below ground.

The project presented various challenges of blending the newly created architecture and landscape with the cultural norms and expectations of the region, whilst maintaining the different characters of the precincts. The design team was large and varied, including several world-renowned architectural practices designing iconic buildings, and managing the interfaces between the public and private nightscapes was a complex challenge.

With several years of construction programme to go, the first areas of the development are now close to completion.

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