Combining Traditional and Contemporary Elements in Dubai Landscaping

Combining Traditional and Contemporary Elements in Dubai Landscaping

Combining Traditional and Contemporary Elements in Dubai Landscaping

Dubai, with its rich cultural heritage and modern skyline, offers a unique canvas for landscaping that seamlessly blends traditional and contemporary elements. By combining the timeless charm of traditional design with the sleek sophistication of modern aesthetics, homeowners can create outdoor spaces that pay homage to the city’s heritage while embracing its dynamic present. Here’s how you can achieve a harmonious fusion of tradition and modernity in your Dubai landscaping. For more information check out best landscape companies in dubai

1. Architectural Inspiration

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Draw inspiration from traditional Emirati architecture when designing your landscape. Incorporate elements such as arched doorways, ornate screens (mashrabiya), and intricate tile work (zellige) into features like pergolas, pathways, and retaining walls. These architectural details add a touch of authenticity and cultural richness to your outdoor space.

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2. Water Features

Water has always held great significance in Emirati culture, symbolizing life, prosperity, and hospitality. Integrate traditional water features like fountains, reflecting pools, and ornamental ponds into your landscape design. Combine these with contemporary water features such as infinity pools or sleek water walls to create a striking visual contrast that celebrates the past while embracing the future.

3. Native Plantings

Incorporate native and drought-tolerant plants into your landscaping to pay homage to Dubai’s natural environment. Choose species such as date palms, bougainvillea, and desert roses that thrive in the arid climate while adding color, texture, and fragrance to your outdoor space. Pair these traditional plantings with modern landscaping elements like minimalist garden beds or sculptural planters for a contemporary twist.

4. Hardscaping Materials

Select hardscaping materials that reflect both traditional and contemporary influences. Use natural stone, such as limestone or sandstone, for pathways, patios, and retaining walls, evoking the timeless beauty of the desert landscape. Contrast this with sleek, modern materials like concrete, steel, or glass for features such as fire pits, seating areas, and outdoor kitchens, creating a visually dynamic landscape that seamlessly blends old and new.

5. Shade Structures

Incorporate traditional shade structures like pergolas, arbors, and shade sails into your landscape design to provide relief from the intense desert sun. Choose materials and designs that pay homage to traditional Emirati architecture, such as wooden lattice screens or woven palm fronds. Complement these with contemporary shading solutions like retractable awnings or cantilevered umbrellas for added versatility and style.

6. Outdoor Living Spaces

Create inviting outdoor living spaces that combine traditional majlis-style seating with modern comforts. Use traditional floor cushions (majlis) or low-slung seating arrangements to foster a sense of intimacy and community, while incorporating modern amenities like built-in seating, fire features, and outdoor lighting for added convenience and ambiance. This blending of old and new creates a welcoming atmosphere that is both familiar and contemporary.

7. Lighting Design

Illuminate your landscape with a thoughtful lighting design that highlights both traditional and contemporary elements. Use warm, ambient lighting to accentuate traditional architectural features and plantings, creating a sense of warmth and intimacy. Complement this with modern LED fixtures, uplights, and pathway lights to enhance safety, visibility, and drama, transforming your landscape into a captivating nighttime oasis.

8. Art and Sculpture

Incorporate art and sculpture into your landscape to add visual interest and cultural significance. Choose pieces that reflect both traditional Emirati motifs and contemporary artistic expressions. This juxtaposition of old and new creates a dynamic focal point that invites exploration and contemplation, adding depth and personality to your outdoor space.

9. Sustainable Practices

Embrace sustainable landscaping practices that honor both tradition and modernity. Use eco-friendly materials, such as recycled wood or locally sourced stone, for construction and hardscaping projects. Install water-saving irrigation systems, rainwater harvesting tanks, and native plantings to minimize water usage and promote biodiversity. By incorporating these sustainable practices, you can create a landscape that respects the environment while celebrating Dubai’s rich cultural heritage.

10. Personal Touches

Infuse your landscape with personal touches and family traditions that reflect your unique heritage and lifestyle. Whether it’s a traditional courtyard garden inspired by Emirati courtyard houses (barajeel), a contemporary outdoor kitchen for hosting family gatherings, or a tranquil meditation garden for quiet reflection, adding personal elements ensures that your landscape is a true reflection of who you are and what you value.


Combining traditional and contemporary elements in Dubai landscaping offers a rich tapestry of design possibilities that honor the past while embracing the future. By integrating architectural inspiration, water features, native plantings, hardscaping materials, shade structures, outdoor living spaces, lighting design, art and sculpture, sustainable practices, and personal touches, you can create a landscape that is both timeless and innovative. Whether you’re seeking to evoke the charm of traditional Emirati architecture or the sophistication of modern Dubai, blending old and new allows you to create an outdoor space that is uniquely yours, reflecting the vibrant spirit of this dynamic city.

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Hendrik Morella
June 2024

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