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SAUDI ARABIA - Real Estate & Construction

Sami Al Sabbagh

CEO, Dar Al Omran


Dr. Al Sabbagh had graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1982 and later obtained his MA in architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture. He also holds a PhD Degree in Architecture from Beirut Arab University. His area of research focuses on the continuous investigation of Ingenious discourses between Heritage and Contemporary Movements in Arab Cities, with focus on the city of Riyadh. His experience includes thorough knowledge about promoting the highest standards of integrity, probity, and corporate governance throughout the firm and particularly at board and management levels. His achievements include the building and modelling of the DAO KSA’s company structure, providing inspired leadership to his executive teams, establishing a great working relationship with the public sector and high-profile clients, and setting a course for company s strategy, implementing effective policies and procedures.

"Dar Al Omran was established in 1979 and has evolved into a multidisciplinary consultancy firm, offering architectural engineering, master planning and landscape design, interior design quantity surveying, feasibility studies, and construction supervision services."
TBY talks to Sami Al Sabbagh, CEO of Dar Al Omran, about the company’s trajectory in recent years, expansion plans, and identifying opportunities for the future.
Can you provide an overview of Dar Al Omran’s journey since its inception, and how is it positioned within the Construction industry in Saudi Arabia?

Dar Al Omran was established in 1979 and has evolved into a multidisciplinary consultancy firm, offering architectural engineering, master planning and landscape design, interior design quantity surveying, feasibility studies, and construction supervision services. With over 45 years of experience, our approach emphasizes deriving from the past to design for today, ensuring longevity into the future. We prioritize value projects that imbue a sense of place and belonging, resonating with people and connecting with our unique cultural identity. Our design philosophy revolves around creating spaces that cater to human needs and emotions, rather than showcasing architectural prowess. We focus on forming spaces that evoke reactions and become integral parts of people’s lives, whether indoors or outdoors.

Given its extensive experience within the Kingdom, what are the key elements driving Dar Al Omran success and its continued expansion?

Our design philosophy centers around what we call the three Cs: culture, context, and climate. These elements are crucial in shaping the identity of a space. Whether we are designing in Riyadh, Jeddah, or elsewhere, each location has its own unique meaning, elements, and key features. We ensure that our buildings are socially sustainable and incorporate cutting-edge technological systems that benefit both the structure and its occupants. Our longstanding relationships with esteemed clients like the Royal Commission of Riyadh (RCRC) attest to our deep understanding of local culture and identity. Since 1988, we have continuously delivered projects that resonate with their vision and values. Our commitment to excellence has been recognized through various awards, including the A. Khan Award for the Justice Palace and Grand Mosque of Riyadh and the Best living Environment Award for the King Abdulaziz Historical Center. Dr. Rasem Badran, our founding partner, has also received prestigious accolades such as the Tamayyouz Lifetime Award.

Looking at the Saudi landscape, what trends and opportunities do you currently identify for the company?

We are observing significant efforts towards urban regeneration projects in Saudi Arabia, aimed at enhancing the quality of life in neighborhoods. Drawing from our deep understanding of local identity and social dynamics, we are actively involved in initiatives focused on elevating urban living standards. One notable achievement is our recognition by the municipality for our work on the Justice Palace district with RCRC, with ongoing development including phases two and three. Our recent completion of the Waha and Salaheddine neighborhoods, now joined and named the King Salman neighborhood, exemplifies our commitment to creating vibrant, livable cities. By prioritizing human-centric design and implementing smart city solutions, we aim to cultivate environments where residents feel connected and fulfilled. These efforts not only improve urban life but also alleviate the need for extensive travel, allowing individuals to access essential amenities within their neighborhoods conveniently.

How does Dar Al Omran identify and prioritize projects for execution, what criteria are considered in the decision-making process?

We prioritize projects that are meaningingful, align with our values and contribute positively to society. Furthermore, we embrace challenges as opportunities for innovation and growth, actively seeking projects that offer complexity and stimulate our enthusiasm. Our decision-making process is informed by rigorous research and development, leveraging the expertise of our qualified team to ensure projects are grounded in sound principles. Importantly, we prioritize projects with intrinsic value over purely profit-oriented ventures, emphasizing the importance of creating meaningful spaces and experiences.

Given the multidisciplinary team of consultants, could you elaborate on the main audiences for your services?

Our client portfolio comprises esteemed entities such as the Royal Commission of Riyadh City, Riyadh Municipality, and the Public Investment Fund (PIF), primarily focusing on government agencies. Additionally, we collaborate with prominent developers including Mutlaq Real Estate and Ruaa Al Madina, Boutique Group, DGDA among others. Our extensive experience, knowledge, and commitment to value-driven projects have positioned us as a trusted partner for major stakeholders in the industry. We are proud to work with such esteemed clients, delivering innovative solutions and contributing to the development of impactful projects that shape the landscape of Saudi Arabia. We have also been working with esteemed clients on private residential projects such as palaces and residential complexes offering boutique designs for both interiors, and exteriors.

How is the company working to enhance its impact on the market, both domestically and internationally?

We have always been exploring opportunities for strategic partnerships and collaborations. While we have previously collaborated with renowned international companies, we believe that the next step in our growth journey involves potential mergers with engineering and infrastructure firms on a global scale. These mergers would not only expand our reach and presence in international markets but also allow us to leverage our expertise in architecture, interiors. and urban planning design alongside the technical capabilities of our partners. With our strong foundation built since establishment in 1979, and our well-established reputation and track record in the region, we are poised to embark on this journey towards becoming a truly global player in the industry.

Could you discuss upcoming initiatives, including technological advancements, or projects in the pipeline that will contribute to the development and prosperity of the Saudi cityscape and its economy?

Currently, we are undertaking two hotel projects and an office building building in Medina, along with the expansion of the historic Quba Mosque, a landmark project of immense prestige. The expansion aims to accommodate a much larger number of worshippers, transforming the mosque into a spiritual sanctuary characterized by its integration with nature, light, and environment. Additionally, we are involved in a major project in the eastern province, which holds significant potential for economic growth and urban development. In total, we have over 25 projects in our pipeline, each designed to elevate the quality of life, enhance infrastructure, and contribute to the overall advancement of the Saudi cityscape. While some of these projects are still confidential, they represent our commitment to innovation, sustainability, and progress in line with the nation’s Vision 2030 agenda. These projects have been incorporating some of the latest technological advancement ensuring the contemporary needs of today are met and enhanced. In addition to all of that, we always have the initiative to continue our mission and school of thought which is about promoting the language we speak in terms of preserving identity and sense of belonging. It’s a life time mission for our time and future generations.

From an architectural standpoint, what will Saudi Arabia potentially be known for in the next 10 to 15 years? What is going to make it unique amongst its neighbors?

The ambitious vision set forth by His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman aims to establish Saudi Arabia as a country with a distinct identity and a deep sense of cultural heritage. Unlike other global hubs, the focus is not on replicating existing models but on creating a unique Saudi identity that reflects its rich history and traditions. The emphasis on creating livable, human-centric cities with ample opportunities for recreation and cultural engagement will be a defining feature. The kingdom’s commitment to preserving its cultural heritage, including its archaeological sites and untouched landscapes, will contribute to its distinctiveness. Additionally, initiatives aimed at enhancing safety and sustainability will further distinguish Saudi Arabia as a leading global destination.

What are the priorities and goals set in your yearly agenda 2024–2025?

Our key priorities and goals for the upcoming years, from 2024 to 2025, revolve around maintaining our core values and mission and commitment to delivering high-quality work. We aim to achieve global growth in a manner that is both efficient and impactful, while also providing our employees with the necessary support, knowledge, and training to excel in their roles. Additionally, we recognize the importance of investing in new technologies, such as AI, enhanced visualization and solutions related to substantiality , to stay ahead of industry trends and provide innovative solutions to our clients. One recent technological advancement we’ve focused on is the establishment and development of our film and visualization department, which allows us to offer high-definition visuals, interactive experiences like VR and AR, and advanced surveying techniques such as drone surveying and 3-D laser scanning. Furthermore, we remain committed to conducting extensive research and investing in ongoing training initiatives to ensure we remain at the forefront of our industry.



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