Raya Ani is a multi-disciplinary architect and urban designer with more than 25 years of international experience having worked in Baghdad, Boston, Dubai, Germany, and New York City. She received her bachelor’s degree in Architectural engineering from Baghdad University with distinction, and her masters in Architecture from MIT, where she was awarded the prestigious Harvard/MIT Aga Khan Scholarship.

As the 2017 President of the American Institute of Architects-Middle East Chapter, she launched AIA Middle East in Iraq to empower Iraqi architects through a global platform. Her interests in melding innovation, sustainability, and technology, and her drive to empower and lead by example has resulted in her being the founder and design director of RAW-NYC Architects, an award-winning inter-disciplinary studio based in New York City and Dubai.

She had participated in a series of workshops as a volunteer to help build schools and homes for children in Tanzania. The well-acclaimed competition entry for the Bamiyan Cultural Center in Afghanistan, which won the merit award at the AIA International Region Awards in Prague, reaffirms her commitment to empower communities through design.

Through the canvases of her designs, Ani explores the powers of architecture as a pivotal tool of empowerment and transformation, inspiring architects and creatives across the world. Her works on the marshes of Southern Iraq in 2013, which received the AIA-ME honour award, aimed at inspiring and empowering the indigenous people of the region to restore the deteriorated ecosystem. In 2016, Raya was shortlisted from 43 leading women architects in New York to participate in an international competition to convert a women’s prison in Manhattan to an International Hub for Women’s empowerment.