Gulf Leaders Circle,
Muscat Media Group’s GCC-wide business networking platform, interviewed Muhammad Sultan AlSalmy, Managing Director, Hoehler+alSalmy. Muhammad is an award-winning entrepreneur and accomplished architect, who achieved a historic milestone by becoming the youngest international architectural firm founder in Oman at the age of 29. He is celebrated for his dedication to eco-friendly designs, sustainability, and smart technology, collaborating with major consultancies worldwide. H+S has successfully completed over 100 projects, including Buraimi University, the History of Science Centre, the German Embassy in Muscat, and Porsche and BMW Centres, amassing over 20 international awards and solidifying Muhammad’s reputation as a trailblazing architect. He spoke to GLC about how international standards can be adopted with preserving Omani culture in designs.
You have been managing director at Hoehler + alSalmy since 2009 and have seen it transform over the years. May you please review some of the key strategies or decisions that you implemented that played a role in Hoehler + alSalmy’s transformation from a local firm to a globally influential architectural powerhouse?
Muhammad Sultan AlSalmy: We have always been rooted as a local firm, and our foundational approach was strongly influenced by our initial partnership with Hoehler + Partner in Germany. I spent five years in Germany before returning to Oman to establish our local office. It was structured as a joint venture with Germany, where they held a 50% stake. During this phase, we fully embraced their standards, policies, and codes while ensuring that we incorporated distinct Omani elements into our work.
We aimed to strike a balance, where it was not just perceived as a German office, but rather a collaborative effort with Germany. We were committed to upholding German standards while infusing Omani design elements into our projects. Over time, we have evolved towards adopting more international standards while preserving the Omani character in our designs.
In 2016, my late business partner, Ernst Hoehler, decided to rebrand the company from “Hoehler and Partner” to “Hoehler and al-Salmy” to acknowledge my partnership in the company. Then, in 2021, I assumed full ownership of the company in Oman, making it a 100% Omani-owned entity. During this period, we expanded our footprint by opening offices in Sri Lanka, Colombo, Belgrade, and London. Notably, we stand as the sole Omani architectural company with international offices, attracting talent from diverse regions.
Our ultimate goal is to establish ourselves as a global architectural firm with a firm base in Oman.
Being recognized as one of the Middle East’s top 10 architects by Arabian Business is an impressive accomplishment. What would you say are the core principles or design approaches that you and your team prioritize when working on architectural projects?