AUD’s AIAS Chapter hosts The First International AIAS Conference in Dubai
The American University in Dubai AIAS Chapter had the privilege of hosting The First International AIAS Conference in Dubai. Around 80 students came to the university to attend the conference, representing 9 schools from all around the world. A few national visitors made an appearance, including AIAS National President, Keshika De Saram, and AIAS National Vice President, Elizabeth Seidel. The Conference consisted of multiple exciting activities from city tours to workshops to lectures from some of the most important local and international architecture firms.
Day 1 marked the beginning of the conference with an opening keynote speech from Dara Towhidi from Foster+Partners. It was then followed by an exciting opening ceremony where all the attendees met and shared conversations.
Day 2 had a busy schedule which combined various lectures, a workshop, and a traditional tour. The lectures were reflecting the theme of the workshop, the built and the unbuilt. The first lecture was an Emirati Architect, Ahmad Bukhash, the founder of Archidentity. During his lectures he explained the traditional features of an Emirati house, and how they implemented them in an innovative way in their residential designs. The next speaker was Geert Reitsma from Cebra Architects, he explained multiple projects in UAE and Denmark. Next was Ahmed Al Ali, the founder of X-Architects. He took the audience through his lecture into a journey around Dubai. In fact, he discussed the topography, urban planning and architecture in Dubai and its effect on the overall lifestyle. The last speaker of the day was Luca Vigliero from Perkins+Wills, he presented several projects and discussed the design process and development of each. After finishing the lecture, the participants were split into 2 groups. The first group went on a tour around Al Fahidi Traditional District. The second group headed towards Al Serkal Avenue, TechArc where they enjoyed a virtual reality workshop.
Day 3 started with a lecture by the Architect Philippe Lee, from the Agence France Musuems, where he spoke about Le Musée du Louvre Abu Dhabi by Atelier Jean Nouvel. After that Killa Design had a lecture about several projects in Dubai by the Architect Benjamin Piper. The last lecture, was by the Architect Wael Awar from IBDA Design. After the lectures, we had two field trips planned. Our first stop was to Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah. The attendees were fascinated by the beautiful work of Art that were there, and shared interesting talks with the Artists. The second field trip was to the largest mall in the Middle East, Dubai Mall, and the Tallest Tower; Burj Khalifa.
Day 4 mainly revolved around discovering the wonders of Abu Dhabi. Our first destination was Le Musée du Louvre Abu Dhabi designed by Atelier Jean Nouvel. Attendees came across some of the most famous artworks from around the world, such as Vincent Van Gogh’s auto portrait or La Belle Ferronière by Leonardo Da Vinci. In addition, the attendees enjoyed the outdoors of the museum, emphasized by the strategic presence of the sea and the ‘rain of light’ that resulted from an enormous multi-layered dome.
The Sheikh Zayed Mosque, a grandiose landmark of the city, was the second destination of the day. From the use of white marble, golden details, and semi-precious stone finishes; all attendees were instantly emerged into a peaceful and calm mood.  
Later in the afternoon, the bus returned to the AUD Campus with a positive energy full of singing, laughter, and enjoyment. This day had marked the end of the First International AIAS Conference. It was a great opportunity for the AIAS AUD Chapter, to grow more as team, but also push to redefine their capacity to accomplish such an important event. The conference received positive feedback from all attendees, emphasizing on the opportunity of coming across the cultural diversity of the United Arab Emirates, complimented by the contextual presentations of the different speakers.
The American University in Dubai AIAS Chapter would like to thank the professors that helped them make the conference a possibility. Dr. Nabil Chenaf, The Dean of Architecture, Art and Design School, Dr. Georges Kachaamy, The Chair of the Architecture Department and their advisor and Assistant Professor, Professor Jose Carrillo. They would also like to thank all the faculty in the Department of Architecture, Central Services and Senior Administration who provided full support to make the event a success.
Professor Jose Carrillo (AIASAUD Advisor)
Conference Chair: Houda Alkhatib
Conference Planning Committee:
Lea Halabi
Hebah Qatanani
Abdullah Tahseen
Sandra Boutros
Najah El Jaroudi
Nouran Yehia
Sarah Alkhatib
Karim Khayati
Jessica Abou Haidar