Saudi Female Architects Redefine the Kingdom One Building at A Time
Meet the brains behind stunning architecture!
This Women’s History Month, as we continue to celebrate key figures across the board who have shaped and continue to shape our world in positive and pioneering ways, we are looking at a few Saudi Arabian women whose works are truly redefining the Kingdom. These female architects are thriving in what is still a male-dominated field globally, and doing so through sheet determination, innovative designs, expertise, and excellence.
1. Azzah Aldeghather
Aldeghather cemented her journey into architecture at Syracuse University, a renowned a private research university New York. From there on, she went on to become a trailblazer in Saudi Arabia, recognized as its first licensed female architect and consultant. Founder and principal at Mimaria Architectural Consultants in Riyadh, Aldeghather has been pushing boundaries over the course of her career. She began her journey, not into architecture as one would expect, but as a pre-med student in Lebanon in the early 80s. However, after visiting an exhibit of architecture students’ work, she knew that architecture was her true calling. Today, Aldeghather runs her own consulting firm, her works have been selected for a number of national and international competitions, and she actively works on researching theories on the relationship of Islamic principles to modern urban planning.
2. Nadia Bakhurji
Perhaps Saudi Arabia’s most famous female architect, Nadia Bakhurji has been making a name for herself through her unique architectural design style, award-winning projects, and philanthropic work. She is a board member of the Saudi Council of Engineers and president of her own firm, Nadia Bakhurji Architectural and Interior Design Consultants (NBA). Amongst her many milestones is becoming the first Saudi woman to join the board of the Saudi Council of Engineers in 2005 and winning an award in 2012 for her contributions to engineering and architecture at the 11th Middle East Women Leaders Awards. From being a Chevening Fellow at the University College in London, to being awarded the Arab Women’s Excellence Award for Excellence in Architecture, to campaigning throughout her career for the advancement of women in the field of architecture, as well as engineering, education, and business, Bakhurji continues today to break new grounds for Saudi women architects.
3. Fatimah AlQaisoum
AlQaisoum works as an architectural designer at Assystem Radicon, Saudi Arabia, where she participates in commercial, residential, and governmental projects. Amongst her most recent achievements was being selected as part of the winning team from Saudi Arabia and France at an internal innovation contest, presenting an artificial intelligence platform to implement technology in the construction industry. In an interview on Assystem.com, AlQaisoum explained that her interest in the field started from childhood. “I have always been interested in historical buildings. I was imagining how those buildings could be renovated while still be presenting their historical importance to the city. The old family house was my first space to investigate a traditional building. Yet I never knew that was only the beginning and that I would go on to pursue architectural design later on.”
4. Batool Al Mualem
Al Mualem also works as an architectural designer at Assystem Radicon and was also part of the award-winning team that included AlQaisum. According to Assystem.com, Al Mualem’s career was inspired by that of her father’s, who was an architect himself and whose love for his job got her interested in pursuing architecture. She explained that she has always had a passion for design in all forms, be it fashion, interior design, or architecture, ever since her childhood. “I found that architectural design was the major where I could unleash my inherent creativity. Each design is like a story of beauty starting all over again.”