International architectural firm OBMI is participating in Dubai Design Week with an installation honoring the UAE Mangroves.

The dreamy Arabian mangroves found on the coastlines of the United Arab Emirates are some of the region’s most valuable natural resources. The country is home to 60 million mangroves that form forests spanning 183 square kilometers and capture 43,000 tones of CO2 annually. His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan's work, with the support of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, recently announced a plan to plant 15 million mangrove seedlings in Abu Dhabi in hopes of removing 200,000 tons of carbon emissions. Mangrove forests protect the UAE's coasts from rising sea levels and storm surges and provide critical habitats for biodiversity. With the additional 100 million mangroves planted, the UAE's mangrove forests will cover 483 square kilometers and sequester nearly 115,000 tons of CO2 annually. The most found mangrove in the region is the grey mangrove, also known as the avicennia marina.

Not only has the Gulf nation recently stepped up to protect its cherished ecosystem, with its plans to restore 12,000 hectares of mangroves, coral reefs and seagrass meadows which will benefit the revival and preservation of the country’s breathtaking marine ecosystem. Now a leading international design and architectural firm OBMI is also celebrating the UAE’s mangroves in the form of an installation during Dubai Design Week titled "Once Upon a Forest” as part of the event “Design with Impact” inspired by the natural beauty and desire to preserve the mangroves, igniting design and architecture to champion a more sustainable future.

The installation, says OBMI, will incorporate “organic shapes and materials that bring the natural environment of the forests into the heart of the Dubai Design District.

“Our goal is to educate guests about the inherent benefits of preserving the mangrove forests in the country,” says Tarek El Zayat, board director of OBMI.

The installation is constructed of natural wood and bamboo, which remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it adds. The OBMI chose these materials to further embody its mission of building a global sustainable future through design and architecture.

The natural fluidity of the installation at Dubai Design District (d3) during Dubai Design Week aims to foster an aesthetic appreciation for nature and showcase of the diverse landscape of the UAE. The installation is found in OBMI’s pavilion with a floating canopy whereby individuals will be invited in enchanted to explore the protection and promise that awaits within the ecosystem of the indigenous forest, providing space for thought, interaction, and conversation.

“It is more important now than ever to preserve the wild ecosystems across the planet,” says El Zayat. “We aim to educate, inspire, and immerse the community in the benefits and beauty of the mangrove forests with "Once Upon a Forest.”

Guests will be able to experience an amplified sensorial journey as they make their way through the exhibit. From the floating canopies, the sounds of the mangrove forests, and the interplay of light and shadows, visitors will enter a dreamlike experience as they make their way through "Once Upon a Forest.” The goal, through providing a wholly sensory experience, is offer a taste of the healing properties of nature.

For 75 years OBMI has been a global leader in architectural design. The firm’s vision is to honor the space, context, and culture of the space where they are designing and constructing while also respecting the natural environment. OBMI’s award winning design has led the team to render beautiful structures all over the world, including the St. Regis Bermuda Resort to convention centers in Haiti to luxurious resorts in Antigua and Egypt.

Apart from celebrating the environment of the UAE and championing the need to protect the mangroves, Once Upon a Forest also offers respite from the hectic pace of Dubai downtown area. This is another one of OBMI’s aim: to offer design that heals, calms, and provides inspiration amid our busy lives.

“This upcoming installation at Dubai Design Week is an opportunity to represent our values in the most tangible and engaging way to a broad community of design professionals and enthusiasts,” explains OBMI board director, Islam El Mashtooly. “We believe that as part of this ever-evolving community, we must share our knowledge, insights, and innovations, inspire young architects and lead by example.”