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Nikken Sekkei-designed One Za’abeel Project inaugurated in Dubai

Written by:
James Lakie
Nikken Sekkei

The iconic development sets new global standards in structural ingenuity with its cantilever.

Leading Japanese architectural consulting firm Nikken Sekkei celebrated the official opening of its One Za’abeel project, wholly owned by the Investment Corporation of Dubai, with a ceremony at the site on February 10. Distinguished attendees included members of the United Arab Emirates Royal Family, major stakeholders and select members of the media.

Nikken Sekkei was represented by Chairman Tadao Kamei, President and CEO Atsushi Omatsu, and Dr. Fadi Jabri, CEO of Nikken Sekkei Dubai (NIKKEN SEKKEI FZ-LLC).

After being selected through an international design competition in 2014, the company served as Lead Consultant on the development, with responsibilities over architectural, structural, MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing), landscape, and signage design, as well as site supervision and project management.

One Za’abeel’s unique design comprises a twin-tower structure connected by a cantilever skybridge. One Za’abeel Tower measures 305 meters in height, while One Za’abeel The Residences is 235 meters tall. The Link, a horizontal sky concourse, joins the two buildings, attached 100 meters above ground and boasts a total length of 230 meters. Its cantilevered section extends 67 meters over empty space.

The site is one of the first major real estate projects to greet visitors as they travel to the city centre from Dubai International Airport and marks a new era for the city’s skyline while adding a must-see world-class travel destination.

“We wanted to create an elegant building that both represents the spirit of Dubai and provides a strong gateway for the city,” said Nikken Sekkei Chief Architect Koko Nakamura.

The success of One Za’abeel reflects Nikken Sekkei’s penchant for applying a seasoned, integrated approach to its projects. During the site supervision phase, for example, the company collaborated with One Za’abeel to manage intricate design and construction processes, liaising closely with a vast network of over 60 companies from nearly 20 countries.

The Link, the project’s marquee feature, offers a plethora of restaurants and bars and a rooftop infinity pool with 360° unobstructed views of the city from dawn to dusk. It was created using a robust outer tubular structure system with its main steel members arranged in a diamond grid pattern along four sides -- a design that minimises torsion while yielding one large, column-free interior space. The resulting shape offers the illusion of floating in mid-air.

The Link's value is both functional and aesthetic; it also serves to stabilise the towers and suppress wind-driven sway, a key issue in tall tower design. The structure’s careful ascent took 12 days to lift its first 8,500-ton section into place. The last remaining cantilevered portion of the bridge, weighing nearly 900 tons, was hoisted up and attached during a second four-day process.

The skyscrapers’ exteriors are made of low-e glass with high transparency and high solar shielding performance. Glass fins attached to them offer a variety of optical expressions to observers depending on the viewing angle. The fins’ dotted white pattern provides solar shielding that softens the structure’s “mirror effect”, creating a sense of depth.

One Za’abeel is LEED Gold certified, contributes to the UAE’s 2050 Net Zero Strategy for greenhouse gas emissions,and demonstrates the exemplary standards of green buildings, including excellent environmental efficiency and numerous initiatives related to sustainable design, construction, and functionality.

In all, the project provides 530,000 square meters of mixed-use space, including 12,000 square meters of retail space, 26,000 square meters of Grade A office, hospitality space and residences ranging from one- to four-bedroom simplexes and duplexes, as well as a five-bedroom penthouse.

Kerzner International operates two commercial brands at One Za’abeel. Its One&Only ultra-luxury collection of resorts and private homes is a new destination for tourism, with its first urban resort experience alongside 94 One&Only Private Homes and nine Branded Penthouses. SIRO, a new immersive fitness and recovery hospitality brand, will also house its first hotel at the project.

Strategically located in Dubai’s central business district with easy access to the downtown area, the One Za’abeel symbolises Dubai's continuous growth and vision for the future while offering residents and international visitors an immersive environment with world-class dining, unparalleled retail experiences, dynamic workspaces, and superior urban hotel accommodations.

“A marvel of engineering and design, One Za’abeel is redefining Dubai’s skyline,” said Director of One Za’abeel Holdings Issam Galadari. “The development embodies the pioneering spirit of the Emirate, exemplifying ambition and innovation in its architectural excellence. Reimagining the way we stay, work, dine, live, and thrive, it is a one-of-a-kind lifestyle destination that offers the very best in mixed-use development.”


One Za’abeel is an iconic addition to Dubai’s skyline and a revolutionary high-rise mixed-use

development that stands at the heart of the city as a symbol of ambition, innovation and the pioneering spirit of the nation. It incorporates luxury residences, a One&Only ultra-luxury hotel, a SIRO hotel, a Luxury Fitness & Wellness Hotel, One Za’abeel Private Homes, as well as premium Grade A office spaces and a retail podium. Its structural design features two modern high-rise towers connected by THE LINK, a cantilevered skywalk that provides a viewing platform along with unique fine dining and hospitality experiences.


At Nikken Sekkei, we take an integrated approach to our projects as a professional service firm. Throughout the 120 years we have been in business since our foundation in 1900, and across all in-house disciplines of architectural design, urban design, research, planning and consulting. We have always been guided by our fundamental principle of “contributing to society through work with value,” and have continually taken on new challenges in response to the varying needs of society and our clients. We have been involved with a wide variety of projects in Japan, China, ASEAN, and the Middle East throughout our history, and in recent years we are expanding into India and Europe. (For more information, see the company’s homepage:nikken.co.jp/en/index.html).


Kerzner International Holdings Limited, through its subsidiaries, is a leading international developer and operator of destination resorts, ultra-luxury hotels and residences and innovative entertainment and gaming experiences. Kerzner’s Atlantis flagship brand includes Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, a 1,500-room water-themed resort on The Palm overlooking the Arabian Sea and mainland Dubai and Atlantis, as well as Sanya Hainan in China and Atlantis, The Royal Resort & Residences in Dubai. Under its One&Only brand, Kerzner manages several top-rated ultra-luxury resorts in the world in Greece, Montenegro, Mexico, Mauritius, the Maldives, South Africa, Dubai, Rwanda, Malaysia, and Australia. Its upcoming immersive lifestyle brand, SIRO, focuses on holistic health and wellness. Rare Finds, Kerzner’s newest hospitality experience, launched in February 2023 with the re-opening of Bab Al Shams in Dubai. For more information on Kerzner brands, visit the following links: atlantis.com,oneandonlyresorts.com, sirohotels.com, and www.rarefindsresorts.com.  Kerzner homepage can be found at Kerzner.com.

One&Only is the pinnacle of ultra-luxury design, authentic experiences and genuine hospitality, providing an exceptional collection of one-of-a-kind resorts and private homes located in the world’s most inspiring destinations. Designed in harmony with nature and immersed in local culture, each remarkable, one-off resort has its own distinct narrative and charisma. The exclusive collection includes destinations across the world, from Greece and Mexico, to Mauritius and Rwanda, with future resorts in Big Sky Montana and the brand’s first Urban Resort in Dubai opening soon. One&Only Private Homes are currently available to purchase in Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Montana (USA), Greece, and Dubai (UAE). More information on One&Only is available at oneandonlyresorts.com.

SIRO (pronounced ‘sigh-row’) is a new, Kerzner International immersive lifestyle and hospitality brand. Designed to offerholistic fitness and recovery experience, SIRO’s destination hotels support guests to unlock their mental and physical potential through five key pillars: fitness, nutrition, sleep, recovery and mindfulness. Welcoming and supportive, SIRO’s guest experience is tailored to meet the needs of everyone from committed athletes to health-conscious frequent travellers and ‘lifestyle change seekers’ starting out on a fitness or recovery journey. To deliver a best-in-class experience, each SIRO hotel features a cutting-edge fitness club, a suite of specialised treatments to aid sports recovery, tech-enabled accommodations to support optimal sleep, customisable nutrition-led dining and a team of in-house specialists to coach and curate an engaging environment for all-encompassing fitness. For more information, visit sirohotels.com.

By Naser Nader Ibrahim

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