©Kamelia Zaal



Her initial career actually started in the government of Dubai working in various new government entities over a period of four years. Then in 2003 she decided in a career change and cannot describe it any other way than a light bulb moment where she decided to try garden design and so went to study at London’s renowned Inchbald School of Design. She then returned to Dubai and practised as a freelance garden designer creating stylised and contemporary outdoor living spaces.

In 2006 she established her own landscape architectural practice, Second Nature, working on both boutique commercial projects and unique residential villas until a few years later when she formed an association with her family’s prestigious property development company, Abwab. She built up a team with around 35 employees to create what is now the project she is most proud of, the Al Barari Development, a lush botanic landscape and it has become recognised worldwide for its landscape, winning the 2014 International Property Award for Best Residential Landscape Architecture, Best Residential Landscape Architecture Arabia and Best Residential Landscape Architecture Dubai. As well as being featured in the Garden Design Up Close book by Emma Reuss featuring the Contemporary Garden and more recently it was featured in, Garden Lust, A Botanical Tour of the World’s Best Gardens, by Christopher Woods.

During this period she also worked as the Creative Director at Al Barari for eight years. However, in 2015 she decided to participate in the Chlesea Flower Show, and became the first ever Arab landscape designer to participate, winning a silver gilt medal for my garden “The Beauty of Islam”. More importantly she got the opportunity to shine a light on, at that time, a very sensitive issue.

After this she left the family business to go back to landscape design full time and re-launched my design studio, Kamelia Landscape Design.

Although her style of design has always been very contemporary she has become, over the last few years, an advocate for the use of indigenous plants and sustainable landscape design practises and therefore begun to design more natural organic landscapes.

Her goal is to continue HH Sheikh Zayed’s vision to protect and enhance the environment of the UAE and to leave a green legacy for the people of the UAE to enjoy for decades to come.

The Landscape Architect that has influenced me the most and I suppose influenced the development of my own style, is Christopher Bradley Hole. The year I decided to study garden design was the year he won a gold for HH Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan – “Garden from the Desert” . A beautiful garden and from then on I was intrigued with his work and style.

Natures garden is what influences me and makes an impact on me. When I travel and I get to see the jungles in Borneo or the flora in Kilimanjaro, it is incredible; that’s life changing to see nature’s true strengths and beauty. A garden that has impacted me tremendously is Alhambra because of its historical and significant influence on Islamic gardens. So seeing the Alhambra for the first time was very emotional.


Al Barari

A private villa development, in Dubai, UAE, unique in the Middle East, with 80% landscaped gardens throughout the private community. The development consists of villas, apartments and community facitlites. With 6 themed gardens, 16 kilometers of water ways, common areas, playgrounds and streetscapes this development is the green heart of Dubai. The ethos behind the project was about providing a unique and beautiful environment for its residents to enjoy, creating community, with each villa having direct access to the gardens. With pockets for the residents to just sit back and relax, surrounded by nature with a constant sound of running water where ever you are. The landscape allows the residents to walk uninterrupted around the whole community through the gardens.

Private Villa Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi

Designed for a large young family, this garden had multiple functions, a terrace for entertaining, an outdoor kitchen area, play area for the children, vegetable garden, quiet seating areas and open spaces all looking out onto a golf course and sea. It was about creating pockets for everyone in the family to enjoy at different times of the day.

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