Open and close mobile menu


Insights How female architects are helping the Middle East build bigger and better

The Middle East is made up of around eighteen countries, with many different religions, ethnicities and linguistic groups. Typically, in many countries in the Middle East, there have been fewer women working in the built environment in roles such as architecture, engineering, and project management due to the traditional heritage and culture of the region. However, with new government administrations in place, we are seeing an increase in diversifying both the workforce and the economy, as countries in the region embark on becoming more sustainable and inclusive.

At AtkinsRéalis , and our brands Atkins, Faithful+Gould and Acuity, we are actively committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, because we know it is the right thing to do, and it is vital to our success as a business. Our clients choose to work with us because of our unique expertise in a wide range of areas, such as cities and development, which we attribute to our diverse and agile teams.

image of a city skyline at night

Women working in architecture

The benefits that women working in architecture offer are limitless, but we know that the construction industry has not always been a supportive place for ambitious and bright women. Women provide a unique and innovative insight into design and architecture, and when presented with support and opportunities to flourish, we can all experience the talents of female architects. Somya, for example, is redefining the engineering space and making a significant impact on society.

Dame Zaha Hadid was an inspirational female architect from Iraq. She was known for her futuristic designs including the London Olympic aquatic centre and being the first woman to receive the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) gold medal. Her impact on the architecture industry was global, and she has become a role model for young female architects. By showing determination and dedication, women in architecture play a significant role in shaping the perspective of our society towards engineering and architecture as viable professions for women.

quote marks

Your success will not be determined by your gender or your ethnicity, but only by the scope of your dreams.

Dame Zaha Hadid, Architect

How can we encourage more women into the industry?

It will of course take time to establish a truly diverse culture in the built environment, however, a useful method to encourage more women into architecture is to provide meaningful employment opportunities to those in their early careers. Malaa Sultan, for example, recently completed Atkins’ 12-month graduate program, which is tailored to Saudi nationals within various engineering, program, and design disciplines. She’s enjoyed learning new things from top talent in the industry, being able to face and overcome challenges, and being given opportunities for growth, including now being eligible for a permanent position with us. Colleagues like Malaa will help us to build a bigger and better future for the Middle East.

To young women starting out in the architecture industry, Jia, an Architectural Assistant at Atkins, recommends thinking about your responsibility to the world, asking questions without concern of being judged, and sharing knowledge transparently. We completely agree; by empowering our colleagues and fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing around our business, we are all learning and growing together.

Growth in the Middle East

The Middle East is experiencing a transformation and is becoming a more attractive place to work for both local women and expatriates. What was once known as the home of fossil fuels is becoming more sustainable and diverse, with new strategic initiatives in place to help governments achieve their goals.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for example, a series of national priorities have been established as part of Vision 21, including ‘ Sustainable environment and infrastructure’. This focuses on improving the quality of air, increasing the contribution of clean energy within the built environment, and implementing green growth plans. Innovative architects, both men and women, are therefore required to provide designs for sustainable buildings and infrastructure that can enable a safe future.

Kick-start your architecture career at AtkinsRéalis

Working as an architect in the Middle East is both motivating and fulfilling and no two projects are the same, so you’ll always be developing and learning new skills. At AtkinsRéalis , we have a strong presence in the region, built up over fifty years, and we recently announced our expansion of design and engineering services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to support Saudi Vision 2030 and meet the needs of the country’s growth.

In order to achieve these goals and deliver on priorities, we need to see an increase in diversity in the built environment, including more women working in architectural and engineering roles. We’re always looking to the future, and we’re growing our teams to provide a sustainable future for the next generation. Browse our available architecture jobs in the Middle East today.

If you can’t quite find something that suits you, sign up for job alerts so you’ll never miss an opportunity.