As May 4th is unofficially Star Wars day, we take a look at some of the futuristic and space-inspired buildings in the Gulf region, from the UAE to Bahrain.
Here are the top 10 most futuristic buildings:
1. Burj Khalifa; Dubai, UAE
To start with the obvious choice, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is undoubtedly one of the most futuristic structures in the Middle East, designed by Adrian Smith while he was still working at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). Being the tallest tower in the world, the glass structure appears as if piercing the sky with its spire.
To confirm its space-like aesthetics, the Burj Khalifa is featured in two blockbuster films: the forthcoming Star Trek as well as the sequel to Independence Day, in which the tower is destroyed.
2. Al Bahar Towers; Abu Dhabi, UAE
An hour from Dubai, Abu Dhabi’s Al Bahr Towers designed by architecture firm Aedas is another example of futuristic architecture, however this time the focus turns to facade and technology.
It is the first large-scale commercial project in the world to feature a dynamic, intelligent façade that cools or insulates the interior in response to the sun’s movement. I’s alien-like intelligent skin is what makes this tower so high-tech and a perfect specimen for space-inspired design. It is also worth noting that Abu Dhabi was the location for the latest episode of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
3. Kuwait Water Towers; Kuwait City, Kuwait
A group of 31 water towers stand tall in Kuwait City, completed in 1976 and resemble an eery retro space-ship community.
In 1965, the Kuwaiti government commissioned the Swedish engineering firm VBB ( it is now known as Sweco) to create and implement a plan for a modern water-supply system in the capital. The firm followed by building five groups of towers, with a total of 31, designed by its chief architect Sune Lindström, and nicknamed the “mushroom towers”.
These strange, alien-like structures are made from reinforced concrete and arranged by number, height, colour and ornamentation.
4. Kuwait Towers; Kuwait City, Kuwait
Following the previous retro-style space iconography, these three water towers in Kuwait were designed following the Amir of Kuwait’s wish for a more “spectacular” design.
The last group of water towers, known as Kuwait Towers, still uphold the futuristic aesthetics of the previous structures, however the latest one appear to be from a slightly more modern era of sci-fi.
5. World Trade Centre; Manama, Bahrain
Designed by Atkins, the World Trade Centre towers in Manama, Bahrain are reminiscent of Lord of the Rings’ Barad-dur (the Eye of Sauron) in Mordor, though not nearly as menacing.
The two towers, linked by three sky bridges, is the world’s first skyscraper with wind turbines incorporated into its design (another point for futuristic architecture!).
6. Burj Qatar; Doha, Qatar
Much like the Al Bahr towers, Jean Nouvel’s Burj Qatar relates to the theme of space-inspired architecture by its futuristic “skin”.
The eye-catching cylindrical facade is constructed of multi-layered patterns invoking ancient Islamic screens designed to shade buildings from the sun. It is the first tall building to use reinforced concrete dia-grid columns internally. There is also no central core, maximizing the interior space available for tenants.
7. Louvre Abu Dhabi; Abu Dhabi, UAE
Another Jean Nouvel building in the Gulf, the soon-to-be-completed Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed as a massive dome that resembles a flying saucer, especially when viewed from the top.
Located in the heart of the Saadiyat Cultural District, the building features a 180m dome, that with a steel latticework that serves as a decorative element, will also create a microclimate without excess solar gain.
8. Flying Saucer; Sharjah, UAE
In addition to its name which hints at sci-fi origins, the Flying Saucer building is a bit of an architectural mystery in the Emirates, with no records of when the building was first initiated or who the architect behind the project was. The Sharjah Art Foundation is currently on the look out for any documentation that reveals further information on the building.
So, in addition to its unusual symmetry topped with a dome, its anonymous origins makes a perfect additional to our list of outer space-inspired architecture.
What is known about the Flying Saucer building is that is was completed in December 1978 and used as a supermarket, a co-op and a fast-food joint. It is now operated by the Sharjah Art Foundation and serves as a public research project.
9. Ferrari World; Abu Dhabi, UAE
The Benoy-designed Ferrari World is one of the most unusual structures to grace Abu Dhabi’s skyline. Resembling an extra-terrestrial life form, iconic sleek red roof is inspired by the classic double curve side profile of the Ferrari GT body.
The building spans 200,000m2 and is carrying the largest Ferrari logo ever created.
10. Museum of Islamic Art; Doha, Qatar
Resembling a group of cubes that are haphazardly stacked on top of one another, the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha appears as a mystical kingdom, floating on the sea.
Designed by IM Pei, who came out of retirement to travel across the Middle East for six months, the museum is inspired by various elements of the region, resulting in this minimal and futuristic structure.