The Renovated Arab League Hall Strengthens Arab Unity

Lebanese designer Nada Debs renovates the Arab League Hall in Cairo, Egypt ushering in an era of dialogue and unity amongst the Arab States through design.

Dark wood panelling with marble and brass etching carved out in geometrical patterns, tables and partitions in the same detailed Islamic motifs, and other subtle detailing on the desks and seating that comes together to create a classic luxurious setting without the frills of over design mark the renovated interiors of the Arab League Hall in Cairo. First constructed in 1955 by modernist architect Mahmoud Riad, the renovation of the Arab League Hall by Nada Debs mark the beginning of a new era in design, dialogue, and unity amongst the Arab states.

Commissioned and funded by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs of the UAE, the renovation which began in 2015 aimed at modernising traditional elements while maintaining the essence of a distinctive Middle Eastern identity.

“My take was to create an environment that is contemporary and peaceful, but still relevant to our Arab culture and identity, in order to enhance unity and progressive thinking,” says Nada Debs of the four-year project which was unveiled at the 153rd meeting of the Council of Arab Foreign Ministers in March 2020.

The central circle of the hall is a reflection of the modern Arab identity, represented through geometrical accents, arabesque patterns, an elevating colour scheme and the congruency of a rhombus that together, stand to resemble a renewed alliance of the Arab member states which remain united in their mission to usher in a period of peace, prosperity and harmony in the Arab world.

Nada creates a timeless appeal by safeguarding craft legacies and making them relevant to future generations through a signature design approach.

“The idea was to breed new life into the traditional craft, and I used prevalent Middle Eastern geometric design, interspersed through different mediums and a harmonic repetition to replicate a sense of coherence and unity,” says Nada.

Restoring and strengthening the inherent Arab identity, Nada preserved historically relevant features of the Hall such as the scriptures above the main stage, the wooden wall panels, and the central circle of the hall which is now accentuated with a rhombus selected for its relevance to Islamic architecture and its intrinsic connection to the Middle East region as a symbolic element that unifies all Arab states.

“Each nation in the Arab world has its own identity and yet we all are connected through geometry. The idea was to use the same repetitive geometric shape and to juxtapose it by applying it to different mediums, materials and functions,” she says.

The renovated hall now features a renewed sense of neo-modern Arab identity, upgraded state-of-the-art wireless technology, plush Poltrona Frau chairs for presidential delegates, superior lighting and acoustics that intermingle with a coherent design from ceiling to floor, and an uplifting blue-green colour scheme that is significant of the fertile Arab region and the opulence of the land.

“As a symbolic colour which is used as an amulet of the evil eye. It also serves to protect us and bring us good karma. To create a more consistent flow, we used this as the main colour of the carpet and juxtaposed it with noble materials such as travertine, Guatemala marble, and walnut wood,” adds Nada.

All Images Courtesy Nada Debs