The twin 29-storey Al Bahr Towers use a solar shading system that features a computer-controlled facade made up of thousands of translucent units.  Razgova / The National
The twin 29-storey Al Bahr Towers use a solar shading system that features a computer-controlled facade made up of thousands of translucent units. Razgova / The National

Abu Dhabi’s Al Bahr Towers second to Canada’s Marilyn Monroe buildings in best architecture awards

Abu Dhabi’s striking Al Bahr Towers, their design inspiring comparisons with exotic pineapples and honeycombs, have been named among the world’s best towers in a highly regarded award for high-rise architecture.

The twin 29-storey super-green Abu Dhabi Investment Council headquarters came second in the Emporis skyscraper awards for projects completed last year.

The buildings are known for their distinctive covering of 2,000 umbrella-like elements that can be opened and closed to keep the sun off the glass building as it moves across the sky but also let in daylight.

The German-based skyscraper data company Emporis praised the Aedis-designed office towers for providing “a dynamic, translucent facade that runs off power generated by photovoltaic panels and which reacts to sunlight.”

The towers have already featured on the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s “Innovative 20” list of buildings that “challenge the typology of tall buildings in the 21st century”.

The latest award comes after Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Towers was awarded third place in the competition last year.

First prize in the competition went to the Absolute World Towers in Mississauga, Canada, a suburb of Toronto – home to 20,000 Arabs and the centre of a recent Arab investor-led property boom.

The towers, known locally as the Marilyn Monroe buildings because of their curvaceous designs, form part of a five-building complex and were designed by the architectural practices MAD and Burka Architects.

“It’s hard to predict whether the award would have an impact on the value of the property but it’s definitely putting the city on the map,” said Sama Al Naib, a resident of Abu Dhabi, whose family owns property not too far from the Absolute towers. “It could encourage more innovative ideas when it comes to residential buildings, especially in a city like Mississauga that is very residential and not as urban.”

The Emporis awards are regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious prizes for high-rise architecture and have been assessed annually by a panel of architects and other experts since 2000.

More than 300 towers measuring at least 100 metres tall and completed last year were eligible for the competition.

The jury voted the Ateliers Jean Nouvel-designed Burj Qatar, a 238-metre tower in Doha, at third place.


Name: Telr
Based: Dubai, UAE
Launch year: 2014
Number of employees: 65
Sector: FinTech and payments
Funding: nearly $30 million so far

Left Bank: Art, Passion and Rebirth of Paris 1940-1950

Agnes Poirer, Bloomsbury


Created by: Jim Mickle, Beth Schwartz

Stars: Nonso Anozie, Christian Convery, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen

Rating: 3.5/5

Where to donate in the UAE

The Emirates Charity Portal

You can donate to several registered charities through a “donation catalogue”. The use of the donation is quite specific, such as buying a fan for a poor family in Niger for Dh130.

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments

The site has an e-donation service accepting debit card, credit card or e-Dirham, an electronic payment tool developed by the Ministry of Finance and First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Al Noor Special Needs Centre

You can donate online or order Smiles n’ Stuff products handcrafted by Al Noor students. The centre publishes a wish list of extras needed, starting at Dh500.

Beit Al Khair Society

Beit Al Khair Society has the motto “From – and to – the UAE,” with donations going towards the neediest in the country. Its website has a list of physical donation sites, but people can also contribute money by SMS, bank transfer and through the hotline 800-22554.

Dar Al Ber Society

Dar Al Ber Society, which has charity projects in 39 countries, accept cash payments, money transfers or SMS donations. Its donation hotline is 800-79.

Dubai Cares

Dubai Cares provides several options for individuals and companies to donate, including online, through banks, at retail outlets, via phone and by purchasing Dubai Cares branded merchandise. It is currently running a campaign called Bookings 2030, which allows people to help change the future of six underprivileged children and young people.

Emirates Airline Foundation

Those who travel on Emirates have undoubtedly seen the little donation envelopes in the seat pockets. But the foundation also accepts donations online and in the form of Skywards Miles. Donated miles are used to sponsor travel for doctors, surgeons, engineers and other professionals volunteering on humanitarian missions around the world.

Emirates Red Crescent

On the Emirates Red Crescent website you can choose between 35 different purposes for your donation, such as providing food for fasters, supporting debtors and contributing to a refugee women fund. It also has a list of bank accounts for each donation type.

Gulf for Good

Gulf for Good raises funds for partner charity projects through challenges, like climbing Kilimanjaro and cycling through Thailand. This year’s projects are in partnership with Street Child Nepal, Larchfield Kids, the Foundation for African Empowerment and SOS Children's Villages. Since 2001, the organisation has raised more than $3.5 million (Dh12.8m) in support of over 50 children’s charities.

Noor Dubai Foundation

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum launched the Noor Dubai Foundation a decade ago with the aim of eliminating all forms of preventable blindness globally. You can donate Dh50 to support mobile eye camps by texting the word “Noor” to 4565 (Etisalat) or 4849 (du).

The alternatives

• Founded in 2014, Telr is a payment aggregator and gateway with an office in Silicon Oasis. It’s e-commerce entry plan costs Dh349 monthly (plus VAT). QR codes direct customers to an online payment page and merchants can generate payments through messaging apps.

• Business Bay’s Pallapay claims 40,000-plus active merchants who can invoice customers and receive payment by card. Fees range from 1.99 per cent plus Dh1 per transaction depending on payment method and location, such as online or via UAE mobile.

• Tap started in May 2013 in Kuwait, allowing Middle East businesses to bill, accept, receive and make payments online “easier, faster and smoother” via goSell and goCollect. It supports more than 10,000 merchants. Monthly fees range from US$65-100, plus card charges of 2.75-3.75 per cent and Dh1.2 per sale.

2checkout’s “all-in-one payment gateway and merchant account” accepts payments in 200-plus markets for 2.4-3.9 per cent, plus a Dh1.2-Dh1.8 currency conversion charge. The US provider processes online shop and mobile transactions and has 17,000-plus active digital commerce users.

• PayPal is probably the best-known online goods payment method - usually used for eBay purchases -  but can be used to receive funds, providing everyone’s signed up. Costs from 2.9 per cent plus Dh1.2 per transaction.

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