Presidential Suites at the AlUla Wadi Al Ashar resort at night

Al Ula Wadi Al Ashar Resort

Al Ula Wadi Al Ashar Resort

Al Ula, Saudi Arabia


Al Ula, Saudi Arabia

Project Facts

Project Al Ula Wadi Ashar Resort
Client The Royal Commission of Al UIa
Size N/a
Services Client Representative, Master Planning, Architectural Design, Interior Design FF&E Selection and Specification, Lighting and Custom Joinery Design and Detailing, MEPD Engineering, Procurement and Construction Supervision
Status Complete, 2018
Budget Undisclosed

Project Features

Presidential 5 Suites each with private Entrance and Entrance Hall, 3 Double Bedroom, Living Room/ Salon, Courtyard, Dining Area, external Decking and Pool. Each of the Presidential Suites also has a full separate Kitchen, Staff Quarters with separate Staff Entrance, Laundry Room, and Storerooms.
Deluxe 30 Suites with separate double Bedroom, Living Room, Bathroom and external Deck for seating.

In mid-July 2018 RTAE was approached by the Royal Commission of Al Ula (RCU) for the first luxury resort to be designed, built and fully operational in less than six months in  unchartered territory among the Al Ula mountain range! Tied to the newly penned Tantora Festival aimed at promoting the Al Ula province, the resort would be receiving its first guest in December of the same year! Master planning and designing and building a full-fledged 5-star resort in such limited time would be normally considered impossible, yet it didn’t deter Rashid Taqui Architects and Engineers (RTAE) from rising to the challenge.

With the further complexity of remote location deep in the mountains of Al Ula devoid of any infrastructure including any road access nor any utilities/ water supply, there was only way to deliver the RCUs requirements that would entail parallel design and build activities on- and off-site for all disciplines and a team of consultants experienced in such building typologies and the region.

Recognising the near 30-years of regional experience of the CEO of RTAE, developing and delivering 5-star resorts and fast track projects, the Client appointed Mr Rashid Taqui as the Client’s Representative to advise and guide the team of consultants for design related matters of the master planning, architectural and interior design for this landmark development. Meanwhile RTAE was tasked with the architectural and interior design, facilitating the procurement, and supervising the delivery/ installation of the Presidential Suites, and other components of the resort as necessitated by the Client.

Client Representative

Working under such conditions and challenges, proceeding with conventional building methodologies would not have been achievable, and the quality would have been compromised which for RTAE was unacceptable. Hence, we proposed that the building’s envelopes and internal fit-outs to be manufactured off site locally where quality standards can be upheld. Similarly, the tensile structures should be manufactured off site, concurrent to the Civil-Works Contractor’s on-site activities.

Together with locally based prefabrication specialist, RTAE designed the resort in a way that each building would be a collection of modules manufactured locally, complete with all internal finishes and fittings, and MEP works. These modules were sized to fit onto a low-bed vehicles, be able to withstand their transportation some 3,000 kilometres, and pass through the opening of Saudi Arabia border crossing gate. Upon reaching the site, each module was hauled into position onto bases already built by the Civil Works Contractor with cranes, bolted together and plastered/ painted over erasing any visible signs of this construction methodology.


The fast-track nature of the development and the simultaneous design and construction of the various building components demanded highly elaborate planning between design and build off-site, and final assembly/ construction on-site to avoid and disruptions to the workflow. Areas of integration of the offsite and onsite construction had to be not only developed correctly to ensure all parts would fit once on site, but also in their timing to ensure offsite construction was completed and delivered to site as required by the workflow plan by the Contractor. A good example of this is the concrete base foundations for the prefabricated buildings and tensile structures. Each base was designed and constructed to not only carry the building modules as per the overall footprint but also the tensile structure above and hence had to be engineered to withstand the anticipated wind forces and steel bases for their fixing later. While the tent overhead was to be fixed after all modules were installed, the column structure that holds the tent at the top needed to be installed before the modules received their final fix. Equally during the design stage, calculations showed a potential 6-degree swing in this steel pole structure during windy season and if this pressure was transferred to the prefabricated building modules, it would destroy these lightweight structures immediately. Thus, the design of the modules/ building accommodates a 6-degree swing +/- 4 degrees to overcome this threat.

Interior Design and Installation

RTAE was also tasked with the interior design and supervision of the manufacture/ procurement and final installation on site. Working with the interiors Contractor Tala, specialised in high-end furniture and fit-outs, and having a global reach of manufacturers, the two parties worked closely together non-stop around the clock, designing, specifying, sourcing, procuring, and manufacturing all the interior FF&E items from across the globe. From UAE, India to Morocco, from Sweden, Spain to the Netherlands, artisans, craftsmen, and factories produced unique custom-designed interiors by RTAE, delivered and installed on site by Tala under our supervision.

Interior design and fit out with custom-designed and custom-made furniture in all Guest Bedrooms of the Presidential Suites at the Al Ula Wadi Al Ashar Resort in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia designed by RTAE, Dubai

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With over 40 years of experience in project and construction management across the region, Al-Kayyalli has worked in senior-management level roles with some of the biggest real-estate development companies across the Gulf region.

Specialised in working on complete project lifecycle, Al-Kayyalli’s has wide-reaching experience in all stages of project development and delivery ranging from initial preliminary and feasibility studies, financial and time planning, costing and procurement, value engineering, construction supervision and management to commissioning and testing before final handover.

Before joining Rashid Taqui Architects and Engineers, Al Kayyalli was the CEO of the Saudi Qitaf al Ardah Development Real Estate Co. (Al Nahda & Al Omar Group) where he re-structured the company to fully develop in-house turnkey developments through the establishment of an in-house project management and procurement office.

Prior to which, he was the Vice President Project Management and Engineering of Al-Oula International-Amar International Real Estate where Al Kayyalli successfully implemented major investment programs for the firm’s operations in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, as turnkey solutions tailored to the findings of market analysis studies.

Earlier, Al-Kayyali was the Director of Development & Project Management for Al-Nahdi Group (KSA) and KCMCC(Kuwait Commercial Market Company), and Director/ Construction Manager for a number of key contracting firms including Al-Jafr Trading and Contracting Co. (KSA), Ali & Fouad Al-Ghanim Co. (Kuwait), Al-Habtoor Engineering (UAE), Al-Muhairy Contracting Co. (UAE) and Al-Hani Construction & Trading Bureau (Kuwait).


Born and educated in the United Kingdom, Rula Hannoun completed her undergraduate in anthropology at the University of Manchester in 1979 prior to completing her postgraduate MBA (Finance) at the Manchester School of Business in 1981.

Hannoun’s professional career began at the First National Bank of Chicago, Corporate Finance division before moving to Project Finance, Oil and Gas. As the Deputy Head of the Oil and Gas division for EMEA at 26, Hannoun became the youngest Vice President in the history of the bank.

After marrying and relocating to Dubai, Hannoun left the banking sector in 1985 to raise her family. She resumed her professional career in the mid-90s as Advisor to the Economic Department of Dubai, spearheading the establishment of Dubai Internet City – the second and one of the most successful free zones in Dubai.

With an inherent passion of architecture and design and a key eye for business, in 1999 Hannoun established the firm Tala Furniture, dedicated to providing quality furniture to the booming hospitality sector across the Gulf and North Africa. Nearly two decades later the company is recognised as one of the leading suppliers of complete hotel interior products, operates 3 factories in CEBU, China and Indonesia and boasts over 120 professional staff focused on project management, technical services, manufacturing, sourcing and quality control.

A member of the Young President’s Organisation (YPO) and an active fundraiser, Hannoun has dedicated much of her personal life to raising awareness for children with special needs. She was instrumental in the establishment of Asseef School (Dubai Centre for Special Needs) in the late 80s, the first special needs school in Dubai to receive funding from the late HH Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and remains equally diligent in her quest today, to protect the rights of the children without a voice.


With near 30 years of experience in the design, management and delivery of complex architectural projects, Rashid Taqui’s portfolio spans multiple sectors in Australia, Greece, Kenya, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, UK, and the UAE.

Taqui has a Master’s in International Architecture Studies from the University of Huddersfield (UK), and two theses to his credit: The UAE – Searching for a Lost Identity, and The National Museum in Al Ain, UAE.

Starting his career in 1996 as a fresh graduate at German firm Schuster Pechtold’s Dubai office, he won instant appreciation and international applause for conceptualising and designing the multi-award-winning Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa – the first eco-resort in the Middle East attributed to having changed the discourse of architecture in the UAE. His involvement in other ‘firsts’ for the region include the establishing a voice for the architects and designers by the launching Dubai’s premier and the regions’ leading architectural journal, Architecture Plus, shaping the annual architectural networking event, Cityscape and founding the international awards for architecture and design in the UAE.

Taqui’s broad-ranging experience covers urban planning projects, resorts and hotels, palatial residences, shopping malls, airports, schools, banks, offices and varied public and cultural facilities, and undertaken while holding senior positions in the UAE offices of German multi-disciplinary firm Kling Consult, civil engineering firm Italconsult SPA, and architectural firm Incorporated Consultants (Conin).

Rashid Taqui Architects and Engineers, established in 2008, is his personal brand that specialises in contextually authentic, eco-aware architecture. He ardently advocates integrity and sustainability while targeting high yields for stakeholders through innovative design, investment opportunities, and value engineering.

Taqui often speaks at public events and writes regularly for local publications. His interests include fitness, films, food, and travel.

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