Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Abu Dhabi, UAE


To install and design a dynamic lighting effect and provide subtle colours that would emphasize the unique structure of the bridge.


The Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi has been illuminated in spectacular fashion using Martin Professional colour changing luminaires. The bridge, which soars to a height of 60 meters and stretches 842 meters, connects mainland Dubai to the island of Abu Dhabi and acts as a gateway to the city.
Ideas for illuminating the Sheikh Zayed Bridge began over a decade ago when coloured illumination was promoted by Nour Assafiri, CEO of Martin Middle East, to the Municipality of Abu Dhabi. They liked the idea and accordingly asked the bridge’s prestigious architect Zaha Hadid to consider the concept.

Captivatingly colourful

Named after the country's former president, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the bridge features a captivating illumination of dynamic lighting from 204 Martin Exterior 600™ and 130 Martin Exterior 200™ colour changing luminaires, as well as 956 Martin Cyclo 01™ linear fluorescent luminaires. 
The highly artistic form of the bridge consists of a linear deck with waveform spine of three main arches. The spine arches are illuminated by Martin dynamic coloured light that extends both above and below road level. Fitted in lighting cells underneath the deck of the bridge are customized Martin Cyclo fixtures for white light illumination. 
A redundant lighting control system is centred around a Martin Maxxyz Compact™ lighting console, which was used for lighting programming, with a Martin M-PC used for control of daily lighting scenes.

Lighting design

Lighting scenarios of shifting coloured light smoothly flow across the bridge in a design based on two principles: it is a metaphor of energy flowing across the water, visualized by coloured light cross-fading from one shade to another while simultaneously moving along the bridge’s spine. Secondly, the lighting renders the bridge’s spine 3-dimensionally at night by projecting different colours on horizontal and vertical surfaces, thus articulating the spatial structure of the bridge’s spine. 
The specially developed lighting scenarios can be used to celebrate religious traditions, festivities and public events. With the new moon each month, the bridge lighting mimics the inspiring Martin nighttime illumination of the landmark Grand Mosque, which sits nearby. Once a month, both iconic structures appear tinted in deep blue to create a sense of urban, and cultural, connectivity.

Incredibly complex

Rogier van der Heide, Chief Designer and Vice President at Philips Lighting, and previous Director at Hollands Licht and Arup Lighting, created the original lighting design concept for the bridge. He commented, “The lighting design of this project was incredibly complex. I had to integrate colour changing technology, dust- and waterproof equipment, a very advanced control network and special optics into a single holistic solution to realize the creative design.”

Successful collaboration

Martin Professional Middle East was instrumental in executing the design and realizing the final effect, says van der Heide. The lighting design was further detailed with an international design team at Arup. The final project phases, including programming of 13 artistic scenarios, were led by Simone Collon, associate and lighting designer at Arup. 
“Without the tremendous contribution of Martin Pro Middle East and High Point Rendel, this project could not have been done,” van der Heide stated. “The successful finalization of this project demonstrates how important it is to collaborate, and how architectural lighting has evolved into a holistic discipline that brings together designers, manufacturers and engineers in an integrated process.”

Product Used

Martin Cyclo 01™ (956 pcs)
Martin Exterior 600™ (204 pcs)
Martin Exterior 200™ (130 pcs)
Martin Maxxyz Compact™ (1 pc)
Martin M-PC™ (1 pc)
Martin Exther2DMX8™ (12 pcs)
Martin RS-485 Optosplitter™  (9 pcs)
Martin Ethernet Switch (10 pcs)