How BEAAH's headquarters in Sharjah is nurturing two Emirati women's COP28 ambitions

State-of-the-art building showcases the picturesque and culturally-vibrant Emirate's call to action against climate change


Joydeep Sengupta

Published: Tue 10 Jan 2023, 7:37 PM

Last updated: Tue 10 Jan 2023, 7:39 PM

Two dynamic Emirati women — Hind Al Huwaid and Nada Taryam — are powering a quiet change in the sustainability landscape in the picturesque emirate of Sharjah, where a public-private entity’s twin-pillared strategies of sustainability and digitalisation are in sync with the UAE’s COP28 ambitions ahead of the showpiece event that will be held in Dubai later this year.

While Al Huwaid is managing director (MD) of BEAAH Education, Taryam is MD, Civil and Architecture Projects at BEAAH — and their endeavour is taking place under the able leadership of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah; and Khaled Al Huraimel, the group chief executive officer (CEO) of BEEAH Group, a position he has held since August 2009,

On March 30 last year, BEEAH Group officially opened its ground-breaking new headquarters, unveiling the “Office of the Future” amid the desert landscape at the Al Rowdat suburb in Rodhat Al Sidir in Sidhir, Sharjah. The headquarters building was designed by the renowned late Iraqi-British architect Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, who, unfortunately, passed away on March 31, 2016, around six years before the state-of-the-art building was inaugurated by the Sharjah Ruler.

But Hadid’s architectural marvel lives on.

Taryam is the proud torch bearer of that mantle — she is an alumnus of the same institution in London that Hadid attended, namely the Architectural Association School of Architecture, and has been at the helm of affairs at Civil and Architecture Projects, BEAAH, since 2013.

“The project has been in the works for over four years and Zaha Hadid Architects won the bid from among three contenders to build this iconic and contemporary landmark,” Taryam told Khaleej Times.

Sharjah, which is known for its understated and publicity-shy way of stealing a sustainability march over other emirates in the UAE and across the Middle East and Africa Region (Mena) — the hub of Arab supremacy in a non-aligned world — has impressive data points that speak for its acute ecological concerns.

“Sharjah was the first emirate in the country to reach zero-waste capability last year, despite the overarching Covid-19-pandemic challenges. We notched up the highest waste diversion rate of 76 per cent, while the remaining 24 per cent was recycled through waste energy facilities. Besides, we’ve embarked upon an impressive programme to educate students in schools and universities across the country, along with corporate houses, about the far-reaching impact of climate change,” Al Huwaid, a passionate educator, told Khaleej Times.

Taryam weighed in on the architectural marvel that’s tucked away in scenic and culturally-vibrant Sharjah’s desert landscape.

“The location was inspired by sand dunes, as reflected in the state-of-the-art architecture. The building looks like the intersection of two sand dunes, where the outdoor courtyards act as the lungs of the building. It’s like an oasis in the middle of a serene desert,” an elegant and soft-spoken Taryam said.

BEAAH group CEO Al Huraimel elaborated on the company headquarters’ net-zero emissions and how it has set a new standard for employee convenience and collaboration.

“The building is a manifestation of our twin-pillared strategy of sustainability and digitalisation. This strategy has led to diversification and growth of the Group’s businesses, not only across industries but also across geographies. The new headquarters is our base of operations as we continue to pursue ways our businesses can make global impact,” he said.

BEEAH’s headquarters is arguably the most artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled office in the Middle East. It is equipped to operate at LEED Platinum standards, the highest standard for energy efficiency in the world, and realise net-zero emissions. The distinct curvilinear features of the headquarters mimic the intersection of sand dunes, drawing from the desert landscape of Al Sajaa in Sharjah, where the building is located.

It’s a major milestone for BEEAH, signalling its growth from a company founded to proactively tackle environmental issues within the emirate and across the UAE, to an international holding group with businesses in industries that are critical to realising a sustainable future.

Al Huraimel added: “The building is not only sustainable and digitally enabled, but it also achieves an unparalleled environment for employee comfort and productivity. It demonstrates that by adopting future-ready systems, we can achieve environmental targets and improve quality of life at the same time.”

The employee experience of the headquarters includes contactless pathways with secure facial recognition check-in, a virtual concierge, smart meeting rooms and a companion app to automate day-to-day tasks (see box).

Light and temperature in the smart meeting rooms are managed automatically depending on occupancy and time of day. The rooms are also equipped for remote and hybrid work scenarios, with powerful collaboration tools.

In addition to the technological integrations, the structure and finishing of the headquarters are sustainable by design, facilitating minimal energy consumption. The curved façade of the building is inspired by the surrounding sand dunes and is orientated to account for the prevailing shamal winds.

Expanding outwards, the Headquarters creates a sense of harmony with the natural desert environment. The exteriors are made up of glass-reinforced concrete, reflecting the sun’s rays for a natural cooling effect. Inside, slab and glass cooling helps naturally regulate the building with ambient temperatures. The building is also powered by a solar farm with energy stored in Tesla battery packs.


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