Dubai-based X-Architects design desert resort in Saudi Arabia inspired by the landscape of the Empty Quarter.

Situated in Saudi Arabia’s Rub’ Al Khali area and spanning 240,000 square meters across the vast desert-terrain, the 60-key resort responds to the site – characterised by 250-meter high orange-red sand dunes and ‘Sabkhas’, the white salt flats – to offer visitors an unspoilt experience of the desert.

X-Architects was founded by Ahmed Al-Ali and Farid Esmaeil in 2013. Over the past decade, the duo have demonstrated a studied and sensitive response to context. Be it private residences, mixed-use developments, or religious buildings, the 2019 awardees of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture view their projects as conversations between the built and its surroundings.

X-Architects' design for the desert resort in Saudi Arabia is no different.

With cantilevered floor plates and glass walls that give the impression that they were cut into sand dunes, the low-level suites emerge from the sandbanks and blend into their landscape. 


Located on the highest points of the site and inspired by the desert flowers, the multi-room vertical structures offer panoramic views of the desert. With a polymer fiber mesh exterior that acts as a shield against sandstorms and the harsh desert sun, the flower pods will feature suspended net terraces, shallow pools.  

The organic masterplan is held together by the arrival hall.  Its interior spaces feature skylights that immediately connect visitors to their surroundings and columns that, over time will fill with sand. A constellation of infinity pools and terraces dot the landscape as if mimicking the night sky.


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