Interview: Nas Alkhaldi

A passion for design and a desire to create a beautiful urban landscape have helped shape the personality of 28-year-old architect Nas Alkhaldi, who is part of the Dubai-based team working for OMA, the studio founded by Rem Koolhaas.

“When you are young you are a rebel and that stays with you,” he says. “But when you get into architecture it’s almost like you get a personality haircut. Some of the unruly parts are trimmed away.

“The people that I have met and worked with in this profession have helped to build a personality I never thought I’d have.”

Alkhaldi spent his formative years with a feeling that something was missing in his immediate urban landscape – whether living in the UAE or Canada. He says: “I grew up loving art, but I wasn’t seeing beautiful buildings around me. They were all very generic. To me buildings are a canvas and all I was seeing was boxes. No-one could tell the difference between them – if you looked at one you wouldn’t have to look at the others.”

A trip to Europe – in particular the German city of Frankfurt – opened Alkhaldi’s eyes to how great design could illuminate a cityscape.

“Why don’t we have this beauty here in the Middle East? That is what I thought,” he says.

“Why can’t we take the beauty of the old soul of architecture and bring it to this region?

“Knowing the Middle East I thought I was up against a beast. Even at university so many of the ideas were so conservative. The environment stripped down design ideas to a minimum and that’s not for me.”

Alkhaldi took an internship in Holland after graduation with urban design company MVRDV where he found a receptive workplace – and after a couple of false starts commenced with OMA, a company renowned for its innovative approach, working first in Rotterdam and now in the UAE.

“I’d always admired OMA’s approach, it’s very fluid and interactive, so I’m where I want to be,” he says. “In design I have always looked to make a difference.”


Nas Alkhaldi was born in Kuwait and studied Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Ajman. He has worked for a number of regional practices and taken internships at Dutch company MVRDV. He has been at OMA Dubai for five months…

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