Sharjah Art Biennial preparations during the the construction of the Fen Cafe in Sharjah by RTAE, Dubai



Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Map of Umm Al Quwain

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Project Facts

Project Fen Art Café- Restaurant
Client The Ruler’s Office (Sharjah)
Size N/a
Architectural Concept and Detail Design, Interior Design, Furniture Design, Specifications, Cost Management, Planning Management, Contract Negotiation and Award, Construction Supervision.
Status Complete, 2004
Budget Undisclosed

Project Features

Dining Internal Seating for 50 persons, External Seating for 80 persons,  Serving Counter, Food Display Cabinets.
Support Commercial Kitchen, Cold and Dry Stores, Male and Female Bathrooms.

The design brief for the Fen Cafe in Dubai’s neighbouring emirate, Sharjah called for a fully functioning cafe/restaurant in an existing historical building facing the Sharjah Art Museum to serve  artists and visitors for the globally acclaimed Sharjah Art Biennial.

Built as home for Emirati residents, these traditional buildings they presented a challenge that was multi-fold. The scale of the spaces (particularly the entrance) was not designed at a ‘public’ scale and the buildings turned inwards with blind niches decorating the otherwise monotonous facades.

Spotlight restored niches inside the Fen Cafe in Sharjah by RTAE, Dubai
Both challenges were overcome through the sensitive re-alignment of the internal spaces allowing them to cater for their new use. Externally, the blind niches were cut through and replaced with fixed/ opening clear glass elements, thus allowing the building to ‘read’ as a restaurant/ café with internal seating and external seating in the piazza. Intricately carved niche details once lost in the internal facade were accentuated recessed individual low-voltage up lights.
View from the outside dining terrace of the Fen Cafe in Sharjah by RTAE, Dubai
All of the furniture is custom design, detailed and manufactured locally in a contemporary clean style that would complement the rich historical backdrop without distracting/ competing with it.
Blind niches opened and were replaced with glazing at the Fen Cafe in Sharjah by RTAE, Dubai
Blind niches were opened and replaced by glazing to allow a view out of the Fen Cafe in Sharjah 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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