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Guide to Modern Arabic Interior Design

Learn about the 4 essentials of Modern Arabic Interior Design

When you merge some exclusive styles for the sake of design, you begin to break ground in untrodden territory. Modern Arabic interior design is a sum of many small features that make a whole. It consists of several combinations of atypical interior styles that combine to form this contemporary interpretation.
Modern Arabic interior design is a fruitful combination of the Islamic, Moroccan and Mediterranean styles with a dash of the Transitional style of Modernism. Each one of these styles have individual characteristics of their own, but when they come together, they can make something completely unique and different. In order to understand the holistic nature of the modern Arabic scheme, you need to first take a look at all four of these styles individually.


Islamic style is a combination of strict geometry, careful layouts, and an open space philosophy. Its initial, singular purpose was to display Islamic architecture in a way that seemed grand and majestic. So the Islamic style used sweeping courtyards, large arches with pishtaqs and iwans along with the arcades and porticos. Islamic architecture was all about grandeur, in an understated manner.
While we study the modern Arabic interior design aspect, it is important to note that Islamic architecture was used in all types of secular and religious buildings – mostly mosques. With the rise of the Byzantine Empire, it seeped into palaces and forts as well. The most notable example of this would be the Palace of Alhambra in Spain.

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Since we will be looking at the Modern Arabic interior design style in terms of small-scale interiors, it is important that we understand Islamic influences in this context. When we condense Islamic style to suit small spaces such as the today’s residences, we will need to scale some of the following aspects accordingly:

a. Geometry

Geometry is one of the defining aspects of Islamic interiors and architecture. From the beautifully carved mashraba’s to the complicated floor patterns, geometry is an inherent part of this style.

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b. Proportion

Proportion of any architecture or interior in this style is set around the dome, but small-scale practices can take the size of the room as standard proportion and design accordingly.

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c. Design Elements

1.1 Arches
Islamic style introduces a plethora of arch styles, which can be used as a wall centerpiece in modern Arabic interior design with subtle contemporary touches.

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1.2 Iwans
A square niche outside of the depressed arch, Iwans are a salient Islamic feature. They are a major standout design element in any modern Arabic design and can be merged with a modern vibe.

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1.3 Calligraphy
Not the most defining design element, but Calligraphy is an important aspect of Islamic design. It reinforces the sense of Arabic culture and sanctity of the religion.

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d. Colors

The colors of Islamic style can be neutral with a tiny hint of bold. Take the Blue Mosque in Turkey as an example – the domes are a bright cascading blue, while the rest is simply neutral gray/brown.

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Islamic flairs are common in Arabic style. A modern Arabic interior design can have geometry in the form of laser-cut partition screens and complicated floor tile patterns. The proportion in a modern Arabic setting can be defined by an imposing arch as the center of the design. Calligraphy can be framed on the walls to imply a modern touch. The color palate, of course, needs to be restrained in order to focus on other touches, but the design elements are majorly Islamic.


An exotic style of interior design that takes inspiration from its culture and a few hints of Islamic architecture itself. The Moroccan style focuses on colors, patterns and an overall traditional vibe that comes from a combination of both. The richness of Moroccan style complements its Islamic counterparts. When we merge both in modern Arabic style, the end product always turns out charming and luxurious. Let’s elaborate on some of the major design elements of this style.

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a. Bold colors

The Moroccan style thrives on bold color choices – mostly reds, blues, and greens. These color choices make this style lively and vibrant. In a modern Arabic context, the bold colors will simmer down to bold accents. These could be subtle paintings or miniature decoration pieces in strategic locations.

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b. Plush furniture

To reinforce a sense of luxury, Moroccan style furniture tends to be quite plush. The upholstery is mostly made of rich fabrics. If the rest of the interior is muted, color can be brought out via the furniture. Modern Arabic interior design appreciates this harmony and copies this sense of luxury in its aesthetic.

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c. Ornamentation

Moroccan ornamentation consists of small decoration pieces and other trinkets, sometimes in metallic tones. Modern Arabic style borrows this style of ornamentation as well.

d. Rugs

Persian rugs are the carpet of choice for Moroccan style interiors. Since both Islamic and Arabic themes take inspiration from Persian ideologies, it is only right that the modern Arabic style own this principle.

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e. Mosaics/Tiles

Geometry through mosaics is one of the go-to techniques of the Moroccan style. With the right design, it can also be combined with the modern Arabic genre of interiors.

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f. Hanging Lanterns/Lights

Hanging lights are no modern innovation. They are the peculiar descendants of the age-old lantern. Moroccan style emphasizes a lot of its aesthetic on hanging lights. The design of these lights is quite defining and can be translated to the modern Arabic genre.

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The modern Arabic style definitely showcases small hints of the Moroccan style. From a sweepingly grand theme to the beauty of traditional lighting, the modern Arabic style can translate it all into its sub-genre in small doses that combine expertly with other styles.


Mediterranean style is most commonly found in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, including Spain, Italy, and France. Since these countries span the coast where the Byzantine Empire was the strongest, they seem to have a few chosen characteristics of Islamic and Byzantine architecture. There a few key defining features of this style that include but are not limited to low pitched roofs, red shingles, warm color schemes and a stucco finish. These are mostly the exterior characteristics; the interior mostly showcases open space planning with wide, outdoor living spaces, extensive arched openings, and wrought iron railings.

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The modern Arabic interior theme takes after this one in the form of open living areas, sometimes double height atriums, arched openings and entry ways and a warm color scheme. Let us compare some key elements of this design with the Arabic style.

a. Open Courtyards/Living Areas

The Mediterranean style of interior designing often has large, open living areas with plush furniture sets. These create a sense of openness in the scheme. Modern Arabic layouts often articulate this concept in interior designing.

b. Stucco Siding

The stucco siding is done in mostly warm colors – pastel browns, light yellows, and other eastern color schemes. This recreates a warmth within the exterior, which is then translated to the interior spaces with a similar color scheme.

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c. Central Courtyards/Patios

Central courtyards may not be able to retrofit in the modern Arabic scheme due to space constraints, but the idea of patios is certainly quite Mediterranean.

d. Arched Openings

Arched openings tend to enhance a sense of grandeur, which the modern Arabic style inherited from its Islamic counterpart. An arched opening is just another way to enhance that sense of opulence even in a typical residential setting.

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The Mediterranean influences on the modern Arabic style might be far and few in between compared to the Islamic and Moroccan style, but they are also very key. The most prominent of these are the introduction of arched entryways, a sensible color scheme to tone down the boldness of the Moroccan style and definitely the patio.


Since the modern Arabic style actually uses three traditional counterparts to its one modern one, we should see how that works. The ratio is definitely off, as modernism in the modern Arabic style ends up being very minimal at best. So we need to see just how the ‘modern’ aspect of this style can apply to the actual design.

a. Tone variation

Since we’ve already established that the color palate of modern Arabic interior design would be a warm one, the modern aspect of that would be a tone variation. This would require the complete color scheme to follow one color, but with different hues.

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b. Floor and Ceiling

Since recreating the grand ceiling designs of the Islamic/Moroccan/Mediterranean variety would be impossible and unsavory on a small scale, the false ceiling and floor designs would be in a decidedly modern scheme. This means that wooden floors, warm-toned tiles, and other modern aspects would be feasible for flooring. Similarly, LED lights, downlighters and strip lighting will reinforce the modern vibe in this style from the ceiling design.

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c. Minimal Accents

Going minimal for such a non-minimal style would require extensive pruning. The modern Arabic style is one of a kind, and going minimal would mean pruning the frills on furniture, curtains, and other physical design features.

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d. Clean Lines

Clean, straight lines are a key element of the modern style. To introduce it in the modern Arabic style would require straightening out the furniture and other design elements that make up the rest of this style.

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A combination of all of the above four elements within context of the three traditional styles will end up defining the modern aspect of the modern Arabic interior design aesthetic.


Now that we have studied the various components that actually make up modern Arabic style, it is time to see how the whole competes with the sum of its parts. The modern Arabic style is a delectable mix of eastern and western styles. It is not only a theme; it defines the lifestyle of an entire generation.
The modern Arabic style effects the color scheme, layout and the furniture selection of your home. It has some very specific guidelines that will end up defining the final outlook of your space. Further, we will be looking at just how we can implement the modern Arabic style in a successful design.

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1. Space Layout

When designing for a modern Arabic theme, you should use your allotted space in a correct way. It doesn’t matter if you’re designing for a small or large space; you have to use all the elements we’ve discussed above in moderation. If even one element overpowers the rest, it can end up ruining the entire theme.
The Arab culture revolves around family. The importance of gathering in the presence of your family is one of the defining principles of the culture. So translating that fact into spaces means that the living room will be the social hub of the house. Considering the ideology of space layout, the proper furniture setting can go a long way towards making a space look welcoming.

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Now, the layout should be such that it reinforces a comfortable ambiance. Too much distance between seating fixtures can lead to a static silence, so it is better to orient the furniture in a way that allows for a friendly atmosphere.

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The focal point of any living room should depend on the culture. Tradition is what defines the cultural focal point of any social space like a living room. For most, it is the fireplace or the television. Once you know the focal point, you should orient the furniture layout towards it.

The Muslim culture appreciates a sense of peace and personal space. Therefore, space layout is one of the more important aspects of modern Arabic interior design of homes.

Cultural Inhibitions

When designing the modern Arabic theme for Muslim clients, you need to consider the cultural and religious aspects of the layout along with the aesthetic. Muslims pray five times a day on a daily basis, and the orientation of the Prayer Mat defines the layout of the furniture. The Prayer Mat always the Qibla.

There is no specific room designed for prayer. Most typical families can say their prayers in any room, granted the prayer mat does not face the television, bathroom or any other human interference. In space planning for the prayer area, you should keep in mind to keep it away from heavy traffic zones – especially children’s play areas.

A small nook facing westward would be more than enough. The television should notably be behind the Qibla, so that any traffic from adjacent rooms can pass behind the praying person without interference.

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2. Color, Materials, and Lighting

It may not seem like it on the surface, but all three of these interior design aspects are quite interrelated. We’ve already established that the modern Arabic interior design style emulates a warm color palate with a splash of bold in very subtle yet strategic places.

The tangent of this ‘warm’ color scheme runs the gamut of the eastern color palate. The materials are always organic and natural looking – wood, stone, stucco, etc. these complement the aura of the modern Arabic color palate.

As far as the lighting is concerned, hanging Moroccan lamps or stylish uplighters are the way to go. The ambiance should be cozy and intimate, so the bulbs should emulate gold light that could be automated by smart technology.

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3. Furniture Design

The furniture design of a modern Arabic scheme should be ergonomic but also fashionable. There are quite a few salient features of this style, many thematic and many functions. Just make sure that whatever suits the theme is also durable as well.

The furniture scheme for a modern Arabic interior design layout would need to complement the theme. Instead of couches and sofas, the major seating design fixture in the living area should be a ‘diwan.’ It is essentially a couch, which is crafted to specifically fit in with the ‘Arabic’ part of the modern Arabic style. Its overly traditional outlook can be a defining feature of your aesthetic.

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If you want a little something different, then arranging a number of special seating mattresses around the periphery of the room is also a feasible option. There are specifically designed pillows to serve the purpose.
One major aspect that relates to furniture design in the modern Arabic interior theme is that Muslims do not wear their outside shoes inside the home. They roam about their interiors barefoot – many are even fully carpeted. While decorating, consider creating a space for guest shoes as well as the owners’ so shoes don’t pile up and create an eyesore.


We hope that reading this guide helps you understand the intricacies of modern Arabic design. It takes extensive experience to master the implementation of this style. We, as masters of this style with professional experience, can help you bring it into your home.

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