Posted inInterview

Meinhardt on navigating the nexus of engineering and architecture

Meinhardt Middle East’s Regional Design Director, Mohamed Ali, sheds light on the company’s transformative journey and his visionary approach to blending design and technology

The architecture and design industry in the Middle East has seen a surge of innovative and transformative approaches in recent years. At the forefront of this change is Meinhardt Middle East, a name synonymous with engineering excellence in the region since 1997. Today, as the company looks to expand its horizons and delve deeper into the architectural space, it is under the stewardship of its Regional Design Director, Mohamed Ali.

Ali, who assumed the role in 2022, is also the head of master planning, interior design, urban planning, and architecture at Meinhardt Middle East. Having been appointed to build upon the architectural design capabilities and develop the regional portfolio, Ali’s mission is clear: to build and expand the business architectural design capabilities as an added value to Meinhardt’s strong regional presence.

In line with this, Construction Week Middle East spoke to Ali about his vision and to discover what makes Meinhardt Middle East an architectural force to reckon with.

With a keen eye on partnering with high-end developers for prestigious projects in the region, Ali is shaping Meinhardt’s design narrative, incorporating values that lead to disruptive ideas outside of the traditional box.

Mohamed Ali, Regional Design Director, Meinhardt Middle East

You’ve been recognised in the industry as someone who strongly emphasises disruptive ideas and technology in design. How do you believe this approach sets you and Meinhardt Middle East apart in the industry, and what tangible impacts has it had on your projects?

My approach to design at Meinhardt Middle East focuses on disruptive ideas and technology. This sets us apart in the industry by pushing the boundaries of traditional design paradigms. We aim to create designs that enhance not only the usability of structures but also its efficiency and enduring elegance while preserving its human character.

Our focus on technology also has tangible impacts on our projects, allowing us to harness cutting-edge tools like generative design and digital twins to optimise our designs and improve project outcomes.

Can you elaborate on the strategic initiatives you’ve implemented to foster a culture of quality and innovation within the company and how these initiatives have influenced Meinhardt’s project portfolio in the region?

To foster a culture of quality and innovation, I’ve initiated several strategic initiatives at Meinhardt Middle East. We prioritise mindful growth and seek prestigious projects in collaboration with like-minded developers who share our vision for exceptional design. This approach has influenced our project portfolio by ensuring that we engage in projects that transcend the ordinary and contribute positively to the built environment. Our work, such as the design of our office in Dubai Internet City, exemplifies this commitment to creativity and collaboration.

How do you view the role of technology in driving growth? Are regional businesses aligning with global standards in adopting these design technologies?

Technology is indeed a key driver of exponential growth, and we’ve established a Digital Delivery unit to completely harness its power fully. We use data-driven techniques like generative design to explore new design possibilities and are actively working on digital twins and metaverse applications. The Middle East region is rapidly embracing these technologies, and we aim to position Meinhardt Middle East at the forefront of architectural innovation by actively shaping the future of design.

Meinhardt has a strong engineering legacy in the Middle East. How have you navigated integrating more design-oriented services with the company’s established engineering strengths, and what have been the most notable synergies between design and engineering in your recent projects?

Integrating design-oriented services with Meinhardt’s engineering strengths has been a strategic move to offer comprehensive solutions. This synergy allows us to create high-end products that cater to the evolving needs of clients while benefiting from our engineering legacy. We’ve found that the harmonious blend of architectural principles with advanced engineering methods results in more holistic and value-added services for our clients.

Considering your extensive experience with high-profile clients and projects, what are the key factors in maintaining strong client relationships and ensuring that the architectural vision aligns with the client’s expectations?

Building and maintaining strong client relationships are essential in our line of work. We ensure alignment with our clients’ visions by actively involving them in the design process and adapting our designs to their expectations.
When working in the Middle East, we are mindful of the local cultural context, and this sensitivity is vital to the success of our projects. An excellent example of balancing this cultural context with modern architecture is our work in Saudi Arabia for Sindalah Island Four Seasons Hotel and Resort in NEOM and Hamat mall in Makkah.

Looking towards the future, where do you see the biggest shift or advancement occurring in architectural design and construction within the next decade? How is Meinhardt Middle East preparing to adapt to or pioneer this change?

The most significant shift in architectural design and construction in the next decade will likely be the increased use of sustainable and eco-friendly practices, as well as a greater focus on digitalisation and prefabrication. Meinhardt Middle East is preparing for these changes by incorporating sustainable design principles into our projects and leveraging technology for more efficient and innovative construction methods.
We are committed to being at the forefront of these advancements and pioneering change in the industry.