The world’s top contemporary architect is a non-descript entity in Islam: a Muslim woman

Bill Gates recalls once being invited to speak in Saudi Arabia and finding himself facing a segregated audience. Four-fifths of the listeners were men, on the left. The remaining one-fifth were women, all covered in black cloaks and veils, on the right. A partition separated the two groups.
Toward the end, in the question-and-answer session, a member of the audience noted that Saudi Arabia aimed to be one of the Top 10 countries in the world in technology by 2010 and asked if that was realistic. “Well, if you’re not fully utilizing half the talent in the country,” Gates said, “you’re not going to get too close to the Top 10.” The small group on the right erupted in wild cheering.


Award winner: Dame Zaha Hadid has won global critical acclaim for several of her stunning designs including the Roca London Gallery and the Evelyn Grace Academy in London

While the muslim male population are still debating how many ailments camel and donkey pee will cure, their contribution to humanity and the world and humanity has been miniscule out of their massive population. Meanwhile the indispensible group in the muslim world, the women, are becoming the real contributor to the rest of humanity.

Meet Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, an Iraqi-British architect, and the leading architect in the world in contemporary and futuristic architecture. She received the architect equivalent to the Nobel peace price, the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004—the first woman to do so and the only Muslim to have received the price—and the Stirling Prize in 2010 and 2011. Look at the list of awards she has received from around the world (bottom of the page)! It’s more than the entire 1.7 billion Muslim population has received as a whole.

Her buildings are distinctively futuristic, characterized by the “powerful, curving forms of her elongated structures” with “multiple perspective points and fragmented geometry to evoke the chaos of modern life”.

Zaha Hadid was born on 31 October 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq. She grew up in one of Baghdad’s first Bauhaus-inspired buildings during an era in which “modernism connoted glamor and progressive thinking” in the Middle East.

She received a degree in mathematics from the American University of Beirut before moving to study at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. She worked for her former professors at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands; she became a partner in 1977. In 1980, she established her own London-based practice. During the 1980s, she also taught at the Architectural Association. Her architectural design firm, Zaha Hadid Architects, employs more than 350 people in London.

  • In 2004, Hadid became the first female and first Muslim recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, architecture’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
  • In 2006, she was honoured with a retrospective spanning her entire work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York; that year she also received an Honorary Degree from the American University of Beirut.
  • In 2008, she ranked 69th on the Forbes list of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women“.
  • On 2 January 2009, she was the guest editor of the BBC’s flagship morning radio news programme, Today.
  • In 2010, she was named by Time as an influential thinker in the 2010 TIME 100 issue.
  • In September 2010, the British magazine New Statesman listed Zaha Hadid at number 42 in their annual survey of “The World’s 50 Most Influential Figures 2010”.
  • She was listed as one of the fifty best-dressed over 50s by the Guardian in March 2013.

The Iraqi-born British-based architect designed a family of the futuristic superyachts for German shipbuilders Blohm+Voss.

The 2004 Pritzer Architecture Prize winner has previously won worldwide acclaim for some of her iconic buildings.

She famously designed the Aquatic Centre for the London 2012 Olympic Games and the futuristic Riverside Museum in Glasgow.

Among some of her other more famous works are the Roca London Gallery, the BMW Central Building in Leipzig, Germany, and the MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome.

Her involvement in Olympic architecture doesn’t end with the London Games. Hadid has been commissioned to draw up plans for the revamped National Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, which hosted the 1964 summer Games and will host them again in 2020.




  • Architectural Record Magazine China Award ‘Best Public Project’
    Related: Guangzhou Opera House
  • Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to architecture (Zaha Hadid)
  • European Museum Academy Micheletti Award
    Related: Glasgow Riverside Museum of Transport
  • FX International Interior Design Awards 2012
    Related: ROCA London Gallery
  • Honorary President of the FT/Citi Ingenuity Awards Urban Ideas in Action programme judging committee (Zaha Hadid)
  • Interior Design Best of Year Award ‘Beauty / Spa / Fitness’
    Related: London Aquatics Centre
  • International Road Federation ‘Global Road Achievement Award for Design’
    Related: Sheikh Zayed Bridge
  • Jane Drew Prize ‘Outstanding contribution to the status of women in architecture’ (Zaha Hadid)
  • The Design Week Awards 2012
    Related: ROCA London Gallery
  • The Sunday Times ‘Makers & Shakers 1962-2012’
  • Travel & Leisure Design Awards ‘Best Bridge’
    Related: Sheikh Zayed Bridge


  • AIA UK Chapter Award
    Related: Guangzhou Opera House
  • Arabian Business Magazine ‘World’s 50 Most Powerful Arabs’ (Zaha Hadid)
  • Foreign Policy Magazine ‘Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2011’ (Zaha Hadid)
  • Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Arts, London (Zaha Hadid)
  • Huffington Post Game Changer (Zaha Hadid)
  • International Road Federation Award for Design
    Related: Sheikh Zayed Bridge
  • Newsweek Magazine ‘150 Women Who Shake The World’ (Zaha Hadid)
  • Outstanding Engineering Design Excellence Award
    Related: Guangzhou Opera House
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art, Collab Design Excellence (Zaha Hadid)
  • RIBA Award (London)
    Related: Evelyn Grace Academy
  • RIBA Award
    Related: Guangzhou Opera House
  • RIBA Stirling Prize
    Related: Evelyn Grace Academy



  • Architectural Digest (Spain) Editor’s Award
  • Innovation & Design Awards, Conde Nast
    Related: Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion
  • Praemium Imperiale, The Japan Art Association (Zaha Hadid)
  • Retail Design Luminary, DDI Portfolio Awards
  • The Sunday Times ‘100 Top UK Companies’
  • The Times ‘50 People of the Decade’ (Zaha Hadid)




  • Academician, The International Academy of Architecture (Zaha Hadid)
  • AIA UK Chapter Award
    Related: Phaeno Science Centre
  • Deutscher Betonbaupreis / German Concrete Award
    Related: BMW Central Building
  • Honorary Doctorate, American University of Beirut (Zaha Hadid)
  • Honorary Doctorate, Yale University, USA (Zaha Hadid)
  • Leading European Architects Forum
    Related: Phaeno Science Centre
  • RIBA Award (European Union)
    Related: Phaeno Science Centre
  • RIBA Jencks Award (Zaha Hadid)


  • Austrian Decoration for Science and Art, Vienna (Zaha Hadid)
  • Designer of the Year, Design 05 Miami (Zaha Hadid)
  • Deutscher Architekturpreis / German Architecture Award
    Related: BMW Central Building
  • Gold Medal for Design, International Olympic Committee
    Related: Bergisel Ski Jump
  • Honorary Fellow of Columbia University, New York (Zaha Hadid)
  • Member of the Royal Academy of Arts, London (Zaha Hadid)
  • RIBA Award (Europe)
    Related: BMW Central Building
  • RIBA Stirling Prize Nomination
    Related: BMW Central Building


  • Architect of the Year, Blueprint Award (Zaha Hadid)
  • Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize (Zaha Hadid)
  • London Architect of the Year, London Architectural Biennale (Zaha Hadid)
  • RIBA Award (Worldwide)
    Related: Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art




  • Equerre d’Argent special mention


  • Honorary Fellowship of the American Institute of Architects (Zaha Hadid)
  • Honourable Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Zaha Hadid)
  • RIBA Award
    Related: Mind Zone


  • Honourable Member of the Bund Deutsches Architekten (Zaha Hadid)


  • Gold Medal Architectural Design, British Architecture

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