The United Arab Emirates, a young nation with a rich history and important global impact, has been busy reconfiguring the focus of its well-known dynamic development. We investigate how the unique fusion of heritage, innovation, and sustainability, which defines Emirati identity today, lives in the country’s neighbourhoods both new and old, in thought-provoking architectural projects and in the pursuits of the exceptional individuals who have shared their stories in the following pages, and who call the coastal shores and the rugged peaks of the seven emirates home. 

Renewable and clean energy sources are being engaged through a myriad of initiatives at an ever-increasing rate in the UAE. In Masdar City for example, sustainability is the primary agenda around which the community’s master plan is evolving from rendering to reality while the LEED Gold Certification of the newly opened ADNOC Headquarters has transformed a diminished building footprint from aspiration to benchmark endorsed by the highest levels of leadership.

Community building has dominated the concerns of many UAE based architects. At the Mleiha Archaeological Center, 100,000 years of human history meet the people of current-day Sharjah in a space that has been created for both, while the architects at IBDA Design in Dubai have abandoned boundary walls in their newest mosque, opening the interiors of the space to the public for social gathering. 

As the national commitment to sustainable development gains momentum, a steadfast adherence to and promotion of cultural heritage remains the force that both binds and defines the citizens of the UAE. In accordance with the old Emirati proverb “He who has no past, has no future,” tradition is not only being preserved, it is also being consulted with. On Saadiyat Island, for example, the world’s most celebrated architects are busy developing a district of extraordinary museums for which they have drawn inspiration from the traditional barjeel wind towers of the region, the date palm thatch barasti houses of the past, and the wing tips of the falcon. In the mountain town of Hatta, scholarship programs have been introduced for agricultural studies and veterinary medicine to sustain and promote centuries-old farming and animal husbandry practices, while on the eastern seaboard in Khorfakkan, a famous defunct cinema is being transformed into a film school, initiating a new chapter in the landmark’s story.

From the arts to academia, entrepreneurship to good governance, you will find a progressive, kinetic energy that pervades the voices and stories in the pages ahead; whether you are interested in a unique travel guide, a contemporary cultural introduction to the United Arab Emirates, or an inviting portal through which to dive deeper into the multifaceted story of our country.


His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, 
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates 


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in collaboration with Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development announces the first digital cultural diplomacy initiative to promote UAE national talents globally. The initiative focuses on promoting Emirati talent in the fields of arts and culture showcasing their stories as cultural ambassadors representing the UAE in various fields such as visual arts, performance arts, creative industries, music and architecture.


Her Excellency Noura bint Mohammed  Al Kaabi, 

Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development of the United Arab Emirates