Creative ideas and innovative solutions from 28 universities attract the public to Solar Decathlon Middle East in Dubai

15 teams representing 28 universities from 11 countries are participating in SDME

  • 700 students and faculty members from 54 nationalities are presenting their creative ideas for smart and sustainable houses
  • DEWA invites the public to visit SDME village and view the smart houses
  • Free transportation for the public to visit SDME site from Thursday to Saturday

Dubai, UAE: The Solar Decathlon Middle East (SDME), which is organised by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, is attracting a large number of visitors including families, school and university students, and architects and developers. The competition, which runs until 29 November 2018, presents creative ideas and innovative solutions for smart and sustainable homes from 15 teams representing 28 universities around the world. The competition is part of a partnership between Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, DEWA, and the US Department of Energy. Dubai is hosting the first two SDME competitions, which is organised for the first time in the Middle East and Africa, with prizes totalling AED 20 million for the first and second SDME.

700 students and education faculty members from 54 nationalities

Over the course of two weeks, 15 teams from 28 universities, comprising about 700 students and faculty members from 11 European, North American, Asian, and Australian regions, and representing 54 nationalities, built 15 smart and sustainable houses on a 60,000 square-metre area allocated by DEWA for the competition at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Seih Al Dahal, Dubai.

Visiting the SDME site

The public can visit the SDME site and learn about the innovative technologies used by the teams in building the houses and enjoy the accompanying activities until 29 November. These include entertainment, competitions, raffle draws and gifts. Houses are available for visits from 9 am – 6 pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and 9 am – 12 pm on other days of the week. To pre-register to visit SDME, please visit

Free transportation for public on Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays

DEWA is providing free shuttle buses for the public to visit the SDME site on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The buses start at 1 pm from Dragon Mart 2 (GD entrance) and Dubai Festival City Mall (next to Ikea entrance) and return from the site at 4 pm.

UAE is an innovation incubator

“At DEWA, we believe that the youth are the driving force for building a brighter future and the cornerstone of sustainable development. Hosting this leading international competition for the first time in the Middle East is part of our efforts to achieve the vision of our wise leadership to support innovation and enable the youth to unleash their creative capabilities. We are pleased to see this participation from international universities and the large number of students. This demonstrates their awareness of the importance of sustainability and their commitment to develop solutions that contribute to reducing carbon footprint, mitigating climate change, and promoting a more sustainable lifestyle. DEWA has provided everything necessary to successfully organise this competition in the UAE, which has become an incubator for creativity and innovators from all over the world,” said HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA.

History of Solar Decathlon

The Solar Decathlon is a global competition launched by the US Department of Energy. Universities from around the world take part in the competition to design, build, and operate sustainable solar-powered houses. The first Solar Decathlon competition was held in the United States in 2002. It then extended to different regions of the world including Europe and China.

One competition, 10 contests based on international standards

During the final stage of the competition, the participating teams assemble the houses in the designated area that are open to the public. The teams are assessed in 10 contests (‘Decathlon’ comes from the Greek word ‘Deca’ for ‘ten’), which are architecture, engineering and construction, energy management, energy efficiency, comfort conditions, house functioning, sustainable transportation, sustainability, communications, and innovation.

Evaluating the teams

Participating teams may earn points in three ways: task completion, where teams complete tasks that simulate modern living, performing household chores such as cooking, laundry, and hosting guests, as well as logging miles driving an electric vehicle charged by the house's solar power system; monitored performance, where an advanced and comprehensive monitoring system evaluates the house’s energy performance and capacity to maintain a healthy and comfortable interior environment, including temperature, humidity, air quality, and lighting; and jury evaluation for features that cannot be measured with meters or sensors. Special awards at SDME include the Special Creative Solution Award for innovative solutions that can be developed commercially, the People's Choice Award where visitors can vote for the best house, the Interior Design Award, and the Building-Integrated Photovoltaics Award.

15 teams from 28 universities

15 teams from 28 universities around the world are taking part in the competition. These include:

Team AquaGreen from Ajman University. The team provides new ideas and innovative solutions for a more sustainable built environment. Identity and culture play a big role in the design philosophy of the house.

Team Al Bayt Al Kamel from American University of Ras Al Khaimah. The team has developed a self-sufficient solar-powered house that responds to the region’s climatic needs using traditional architectural elements.

Team BaityKool from University of Bordeaux, France; National School of Architecture & Landscaping of Bordeaux, France; Arts et Métiers Paris Tech, France, Nobatek-INEF4, France; An-Najah University, Palestine and Amity University, Dubai.

The house uses natural and radiative sky cooling techniques. Food is produced inside the house using an aquaponics system.

Team EFdeN from Ion Mincu University of Architecture & Urbanism, Romania; Technical University of Civil Engineering, Bucharest; University Politehnica of Bucharest and Birla Institute of Technology & Science Pilani, Dubai Campus.

EFdeN Signature brings the user closer to nature by integrating vegetation for the outdoor; and colour, textures and light for the interiors, along with an integrated voice assistant.

Team Jeel from the American University in Dubai

Team JEEL’s house has a unique circular architecture, with energy efficient systems. It can be rapidly built and disassembled without demolition.

Team KNOW HOWse from University of Sharjah and Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Italy

Team KNOW HOWse adopts the concept of ‘living small but comfortably’. Their house is a renovated model of a local villa, with flexibility to make best use of the interior without compromising on quality or comfort.

Team KSU from King Saud University, KSA

The house uses local materials and passive strategies to mitigate from the harsh climate. Another special feature is the patented insulation material sourced from the local environment.

Team MizanHome from Universiti Sains Islam, Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi, Malaysia

This is an ultra-efficient flexible solar home that can be modularly expanded without compromising on privacy, safety, and health, which are fundamental for this climate and culture.

Team NYU AD from New York University, Abu Dhabi

The house reimagines sustainable living, using high-performance engineered materials, abundant natural light, and passive and active systems balancing energy use.

Team ORA from Heriot Watt University, Dubai

ORA stands for ‘Organic’, ‘Resilient’ and ‘Adaptable’. It is a synergy of ecosystems that span vernacular architecture and advanced digital technologies, contributing towards sustainability and energy efficiency.

Team Sapienza from Sapienza University of Rome, Italy

The house mixes elements from Arab culture such as a central patio, wind tower and a fountain, with innovative elements like a green wall, adaptive shades, BIPV, water recycling and smart home automation.

Team TDIS from the National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan

Team TDIS provides an innovative and adaptive solution called Creative Action Base (CAB) for creating a sustainable future. CAB uses water harvesting and solar energy to create a comfortable living environment.

Team UOW from University of Wollongong, Australia; TAFE New South Wales in Australia and University of Wollongong, Dubai

The Desert Rose house creates a house for life, that can adapt, through well-designed structures, allowing occupants to enjoy a modern, innovative and sustainable house to celebrate all stages of their life.

Team Virginia Tech from Virginia Tech, USA

FutureHAUS Dubai integrates smart technologies into a forward thinking and sustainable dwelling. Its entertainment space in an outdoor garden has a perimeter screen for privacy.

Team VIRTUe from Eindhoven University of Technology and Fontys University of Applied Sciences, Eindhoven, Netherlands

VIRTUe’s LINQ concept lets smart technologies complement and strengthen each other to create an interactive environment for people.

SDME Steering Committee

The SDME Steering Committee includes DEWA; Dubai Supreme Council of Energy; Ministry of Cabinet Affairs & The Future; Ministry of Energy & Industry; Ministry of Education; Dubai Municipality; Dubai Police; Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA); Expo 2020 Dubai; and Dubai Future Foundation.

SDME sponsors

SDME sponsors include the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy; Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar); Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC); General Electric; and Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power in the Platinum Category; Mai Dubai, Meydan, and BASF in the Gold Category; and Almarai in the Silver Category. Partners include the World Green Economy Summit and Emirates Green Building Council.

Chevrolet is the Official Mobility Partner of SDME. General Motors Africa and Middle East is providing 17 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles for the teams to use during the competition.


For more information, please contact:

Ribal Dayekh or Ahmed Albanna                                                     Joumana El Tarabulsi or Joyce Mourad

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority                                            Publinet

+971 4 322 2405 or +971 55 22 67222                                          +971 58 2221631 or +971 56 3757729                                                                                                           

© Press Release 2018

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