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UAE’s Traditional Architectural Styles Essay

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Updated: Jun 5th, 2020

The United Arab Emirates comprises of a diverse and multi-cultural society. The society culture rotates around Islam religion, Bedouin culture, and the Arabs tradition. Due to the fact that society is a cosmopolitan, it enjoys a diverse and vibrant culture. Architecture in UAE was basically a vernacular form of style. Vernacular architecture is a type of architecture where the locally available resources and traditional ideas are used to carry out their construction.

The traditional architecture in the UAE is a resultant of two factors: the climate of UAE, which is hot and humid, and the people of UAE culture and aspects of their lives. Traditionally, the architects in this region aimed at sustaining the climate in the region as the first element of consideration. Achievement of this was done by building wind towers, also known as brazils. Building houses using these barajils meant that the houses were well-conditioned, and the heat was kept out of the house. The wind towers were four open-sided structures that were hollow and Y-shaped.

The Y- shaped sides were concave in nature so as to deflect the wind downwards to cool the rooms. There was also water which was poured beneath the tower, and this water acted as a coolant to the house when it evaporated. When the rooms need not be cooled, the vents in this structure were closed (Westermann, 1996). However, these structures are not used today as technology has offered a better solution to ventilation. Though the solution offered by technology is a fulfilling one, some people still use the design for beautification purposes.

A second element that was brought about by hot climate to the construction is building the buildings close to each other. In between the house were alleys, also called Arabic tikkas. During the day, the walls offered the shape of these alleys. In addition, notable are the benefits these alleys offered to the people. The narrow alleys allowed wind from the north to blow in the houses and cause cooling, and they also eased transportation between the buildings.

Effects on the people and Islam religion for the other party also affected the vernacular architecture practiced in UAE. The two affected the elements of architecture in such a way that the rooms were made to face the courtyard. The privacy that is highlighted by the religion and the social lives of these people also made the houses to be built with small windows and ventilation holes high in the wall. The fact that the entrance was made to be zigzag in nature and the main gate being constructed as a solid ensured that people would not stare to the inside of the house. Islamic culture has also influence on how some of the buildings and structures are constructed in Islamic culture (Woon, 2009).

The standard structures in this culture are palaces, mosques tombs, and forts. The decorations of these structures are defined by Islamic culture and are not limited to only one type. Pan-Islamic principles of decoration were applicable to these structures at all times. The mostly used decorations in Islamic culture are Flora patterns, Calligraphy, geometry, and water. However, among these architectural elements, calligraphy is the most important of all, as it is even quoted in the book of the Quran.

Another element brought about by Islam architecture is geometrical patterns. The patterns highlight the Islamic interest of symmetry repetition and pattern generation (Petersen, 2002). The usage of floral patterns is also another element of Islam culture that highlights the usage of nature as a part of their architecture. Flora patterns include the usage of natural elements like leaves, flowers, and trees; they are also used in decorations of buildings, textiles, as well as objects. Finally, the water that was used as an element reflected in the architecture of multiplicity and decorating themes as well as emphasizing visual axes.

The vernacular architecture was also notable for being dependant on the materials used in a particular region. For example, in the walls of the mountainous region were constructed using stones, and the gaps between them were filled with mud. On the other hand, the roofs were covered using tree trunks or fronds, which were available in these areas. However, in the later years, smaller mountainous stones were used in the construction of walls. Mud was still used to fill the gaps, while tree leaves were incorporated in the roof covering. When it came to the desert areas, due to the fact that the communities kept on shifting the hours were built to be temporally in nature. Camel hairs were used with natural plants and were woven together to form tents.

It also notable that in the areas that palms trees trunks and fronds were used to constructs their house. In the urban areas, the materials used included coral stones and gypsum, especially for public institutions and dwellings for rich people (Karim, 2010). Coral stones were obtained from the seashores, while gypsum stones had to be burned for a few days to acquire the desired strength. The ceilings to these houses were made trucks from palm trees as well as gypsum.

However, there have been great changes that have occurred to these area architecturally economical changes. The fact that these countries command a great portion of the oil that is used globally has led to changes in their designs. The money that is earned from the sale of this commodity has led to the construction of the world’s most challenging construction projects like the palm islands in Dubai. There has also been a major shift in the construction materials and technology they used to use the most recent ones.


Karim, L. (2010). . Web.

Petersen, A. (2002). Dictionary of Islamic Architecture. New Yory: Routledge.

Westermann, K. M. (1996). The UAE and Oman, 2 Pearls of Arabia. Deira: Motivate Publishing.

Woon, A. (2009). . Web.

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