Do’s and Don’ts: Designing in Dubai

Our focus this month is design in Dubai and so we contacted BCFA members Areen Design to ask for their top tips on working in the emerging design capital of the Middle East.

Areen Design have over 30 years’ experience delivering exceptional interior design and cost-effective procurement solutions to an international client base. Working efficiently and effectively to make the clients vision reality, the impressive range and diversity of their portfolio is a measure of the quality they deliver internationally. Areen design culturally conscious interiors, creating an experience of local hospitality.


Areen have a wealth of experience when it comes to working in the east including the Al Azizia Holiday Inn. They carried out the interior design for this four star hotel, comprising over 1200 rooms across two, 25 storey, towers. The fresh contemporary style was complemented by geometric patterns typical of the region, giving the project a subtle sense of location.

Areen shared with us 5 rules of designing in Dubai…


1. Research is essential. Know your market, identify the competition and be aware that change can happen overnight in Dubai. Bold, innovative design is also part of Dubai’s DNA so the bar is set high.
2. Understand the importance of contextual design. Locality, culture and heritage all impact on design, especially within such a dynamic market as Dubai. The ‘one size fits all’ design approach would never work.
3. Budget has to drive creative vision. Managing expectations goes with the territory and needs to be front of mind
4. Technology is evolving at high speed. Understand this, but be wary of always following the latest trends Ensure that the technology is user-friendly and streamlines the experience of an interior, instead of being over complicated. Focus on technology that makes a difference instead of being gimmicky?
5. Local resources can be a bonus. Dubai and the region have resources which may be an asset if used in the right way.
Knowing when and how to use local resources is key to saving time and money


1. Never enter a client relationship without a clear understanding of the brief and budget. Fingers can get burnt!
2. Fashion is fickle. Do not be led by it and design interiors which may date prematurely.
3. Avoid agreeing to unrealistic deadlines or budget costs. Agree to disagree when negotiations are unresolved. Ensure all information exchange is properly coordinated.
4. Releasing information not covered by the contract terms can be risky. Be prepared to stand your ground
5. Interiors have to function correctly on all levels, especially user comfort. Don’t forget this!

Contact Areen Design


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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