A new 500 room beachside hotel in Ajman, in the United Arab Emirates, was an opportunity to create something truly special. We wanted to break away from the homogeneity of upscale luxury hotels to create a place that was borne of the local people and culture, a place that would give each guest a unique experience whilst leaving no doubt as to their specific location. The hotel was designed to cope with demands that changed throughout the week. Monday – Friday rooms are used predominantly for corporate accommodation, while the weekends are for holidays and mini-breaks. Protecting outdoor areas from the Middle Eastern climate was a high priority, but we used art and science to create an aesthetic and functional solution. Dramatic parabolic domes cover the outside courtyards, creating self-shading spaces that open in the cooler afternoons but close in the warmer mornings. The outdoor areas are interlocking L-shapes, which help to direct the breeze that flows through in the afternoon. Looking to native habits of hospitality, the visitor experience becomes a ritualised procession through the formal spaces of the hotel. Arriving at the reception, guests are presented with the traditional mint tea and settled into individual day beds, encased in timber cocoons that sit under bejewelled metallic domes. Did someone stay 5-star treatment? From here they are taken to their rooms in the main hotel, or one of five detached palace/pavilions that come complete with their own grounds and a private lift to the communal areas of the hotel such as the infinity pool, beach or restaurants. The decoration is arabesque – geometric patterns place you unequivocally in an Arab context and sumptuous fluted textures and materials take the tourism experience to new levels of luxury. Colour schemes are white or black pearl, and the interiors feature gold, silver or pewter offset by the organic touch of natural timber. Inside the rooms, everything is at your fingertips. TVs swivel on spindles so you can watch from bed or the daybed, which becomes a banquette at a touch. To create the future of luxury, we looked to the past. Uncovering the local people and places, rather than designing a hotel that makes you feel like you could be anywhere, we have created an indulgent experience that could only be found in Ajman.