Modernism is at the forefront of design trends for Ramadan tents in the United Arab Emirates, and with that comes the need for custom temporary structures, says Jean-Charles Durand, CEO of Electra, a Dubai, G.C.C.-based provider of tent and marquee rental solutions, event contracting,
exhibition management, stand building, environments and furniture rental.
Many of the company’s clients are moving away from the full traditional Arabic style, asking for contemporary setups with an Arabian touch and custom-made elements that enhance the atmosphere, he says.
“The common denominator to all projects is the use of mashrabiya patterns, a key feature of Middle Eastern architecture,” he says. “As a global solutions provider with 25,000 square meters of in-house production facilities, we have custom made a range of decor elements for our clients, from various designs of mashrabiya screens to a huge wooden tree for Emirates Palace.”
Ramadan tents provide a place for people to meet after sunset when the daily fast is broken, and businesses use them to host clients in a relaxed environment, at a time when business typically slows down.
“The scope of work usually includes a tent structure and fit-out, bespoke decor and some furniture from our rental stock,” Durand says. “Among Ramadan projects, we have built 2,400 square meters for Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi for several years. It combined a 40-by-60-meter flat-roof tent, original lighting features with a massive chandelier designed and produced in-house, elegant furniture combined with made-to-order cushions, curtains and decorative mashrabiya screens. We also delivered projects for hotels in Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.”
One of the company’s more unique projects for this year’s observance, which ended June 15 in the U.A.E., was a custom structure that covered the terrace of one of the newest luxury hotels in Dubai, he says.
“The structure was 35 meters long, 11 meters wide on one edge and 16 meters on the other edge. While one side of the structure was resting on the roof of the restaurant, the other side was supported by 5-meter-high legs, placed one meter away from the water, which made the installation challenging. By having a highly skilled team of experts and in-house production facilities, we have the resources to overcome technical challenges and ensure a safe and qualitative delivery.”
With its dates determined by the lunar-based Islamic calendar, Ramadan fell during the hottest months of the year for the past two years, increasing the demand for tents. “Most hotels will look at having a Ramadan theme during the holy month to host their guests for Iftar and Suhoor (the meals eaten by Muslims after sunset and before sunrise during Ramadan),” Durand says. “With a demanding clientele and a fierce competition among the hotels, Ramadan is still a key momentum of the year. Some will use a temporary structure as an opportunity to increase the capacity of their dining space, others to provide their guests with an enhanced experience.”
The needs for tenting also follow Dubai’s “crazy evolution,” he says. “New venues and areas are coming out of the sand every year, with both a positive and negative impact on the temporary structures industry.”
In the end, everything revolves around the guest’s experience, Durand says.
“Clients require a high-finish, high-quality fabric for tent ceilings and additional interior elements,” he says. “To meet their expectations, we use European fabric, which gives an extra polished look to the installation while also being fire proof. Clients may also require some customized entrances to create immersive experiences from the very beginning.”