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Cities Media Roundup (November 2015)

[The Corniche of Alexandria after the floods. Image from Egyptian Streets.] [The Corniche of Alexandria after the floods. Image from Egyptian Streets.]

[This is a monthly roundup of news articles, and other materials related to urban issues in the region, and beyond. It does not reflect the views of the Cities Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send recommendations for inclusion in the Cities Media Roundup to, mentioning "Roundup" in the subject line. We also welcome your submissions to the Cities Page: please check details on]

Urban and Real Estate Development

The Ghost Town of Sharm El Sheikh Mark Duell's article on the Daily Mail Online uses photographs to document an "abandoned landscape of deserted beaches, unfinished hotels and a country in crisis."

حلم السكن الآدمى ينتهى بـ«كومباوند عشوائى» An investigative report about two planned developments in Cairo, one which became a slum area and another which remains uninhabited due to lack of infrastructure, services, and security.

City in the Sky: Dubai's Constructed Identity Set to Get Even Taller With Dubai planning to break other records for tallest structures, this article explores how the desire for spectacular buildings is inherent to the city's identity.

التحولات الصيداوية: نقل موقف ساحة النجمة إلى ساحة الشهداء Amal Khalil reports in Al-Akhbar on the relocation of Saida’s public transportation station from Najmeh square in the center of the city further away to Martyrs square, as a real-estate development project is due to replace it.

Le budget participatif: un pas vers la démocratie locale en Tunisie (l’expérience de la commune de Sfax) [in French] Municipal executive Ahmed Guidara reports about the first implementation of participative budget in Sfax, Tunisia.

La décentralisation, clé de l’essor économique des territoires libanais ? [in French] Céline Haddad reports for L’Orient-Le Jour about a recent conference on decentralization in the Mediterranean, and highlights the backward situation of Lebanese cities.

Bollywood, Legoland and Motiograte Theme Parks in Dubai now Half-Complete The National provides a preview into some of the amenities (and expense) of the three projects.

Cairo's Strategic Development Vision: What about Participatory Planning? Tadamun discusses the lack of transparency in Cairo's urban planning and the possibilities for more citizen involvement in the future.

Maroc, une réforme territoriale bâtie contre l’identité régionale [in French] Reda Zaireg for Orient XXI.infoanalyzes the new territorial administrative organization in Morocco as a technocratic endeavor aiming at dismantling the regional identities instead of promoting them, as the official discourse has it.

War and Cities

Syrian Refugees in German Cities This article, based on personal experience, deals with the accommodation of Syrian refugees living in Germany, including types of temporary residence and the settlement process, and the social changes this is having within the city of Cologne [Köln].

The Agony of Saada: U.S. and Saudi Bombs Target Yemen's Ancient Heritage Iona Craig writes in The Intercept about the destruction of Yemen's urban heritage as a result of the Saudi-led bombing campaign.

"مدى مصر" في صعدة: مدينة الموت والتزوح Mada Masr's report about the impact of war on the city of Sa’dah.

Urban Heritage, Past and Present

So Long, Bel
Notes on the history of Palmyra's Temple of Bel, nearly two thousand years old when it was destroyed recently by IS. This article is also available in French.

Les lieux saints de Jérusalem instrumentalisés [in French] French TV Station Public Sénat interviews historian Vincent Lemire about the struggle on the Holy Places [In French].

Brilliant Beirtu: A Chronological Journey Through Lebanon's Capital from the 50's til Today Curated by Rana Salam A photo essay with plentiful links to further information.

Comment les lieux saints ont été fabriqués à Jérusalem [in French] L’Orient-Le Jour interviews historian Vincent Lemire about his recently translated into Arabic book Jérusalem 1900.

What Remains of Beirut's Urban cake? Giovanni Pagani writes for Your Middle East arguing that the major factor in the destruction of Beirut's heritage has not been the war but the reconstruction.

1968 Metro Study for Beirut A collection of images from a Soviet study into the possiblity of constructing a metro system for Beirut.

Urban Informality 

؟هل يستحقّ المصريون وزارة للعشوائيات Omnia Khalil reflects on Mada Masr on the difficulties facing Cairo’s residents and the implications of the recent elimination of the Ministry of Urban Planning and Informal Settlements for addressing the city’s major problems, especially those facing the poor and marginalized.

Urban Gardening Could Thrive in Egypt, if State Stays Out of the Way An article in Mada Masr covers the growing popularity of urban gardening in the country as a part of the informal economy.

عن العمران والعشوائيات والتشكيل الوزاري الجديد Karim Ibrahim looks at how the government’s approach to urban planning evolved over the last four decades and the contradictions generated by different visions for handling Cairo’s infrastructure and growing population.

العشوائيات العربية Al Arabi Al Jadid has run a series of articles in Arabic on informal settlements in various Arab cities:
 - 1. تجمعات بغداد خزان بشري للأحزاب السياسية (on Baghdad)
 - 2. 5 عقود من التغيير الديموغرافي تدمّر دمشق (on Damascus)
 - 3. استقالة الدولة اللبنانية من مسؤولياتها الاجتماعية (on Beirut)
 - 4. فقراء مصر يواجهون تحالف الدولة ورجال الأعمال (on Cairo)
 - 5. أخطار بيئية وصحية تهدد التونسيين (on Tunis)
 - 6. "أحزمة الفقر" تنشر التطرف في المغرب (on Casablanca)

Cities and the Environment

Seventeen Alleged Brotherhood Members Arrested for "Drowning Alexandria"
After heavy rain caused dramatic damages, the Egyptian government cracks down on militants for alleged disrupting of infrastructure.

How to Build a City Fit for 50℃ Heatwaves Professor of Sustainable Development Adrian Pitts reflects on the technological innovations city designers will have to implement to cope with temperature increases forecast in the Gulf.

بعد "عاصفة الإسكندرية".. هل الأمطار هي ما يهدد العاصمة الثانية؟ Mada Masr reflects on the environmental challenges facing Alexandria, which was recently flooded by rain.

Egypt's Nile River Delta is Sinking into the Sea Nicholas Linn, writing for Newsweek, examines the economic and agricultural effects of a worsening environmental crisis.

Gabes Labess: All is Well in Gabes Habib Ayeb’s film on the pollution of the Gabes oasis in Tunisia and the civic struggle against it is now free online [English or French subtitles available].

The Late, Halfhearted Awakening on Water in the Gulf Dr. Mohammad Al-Saidi looks at the lack of proper water sector reforms in the GCC countries in an article for Your Middle East.

La palmeraie: une “forêt” plantée par l’homme" [in French] Geographer Keira Bachar reflects on the transformation of the interrelations between man-grown palm trees forests and cities in Saharan environment.

The Socioeconomics of Bad Climate in Jordan Blogger Nassem Tarawnah critically reflects on the socioeconomics behind the deadly rainstorm which hit Amman on 5th November 2015.

Amman's Infrastructure: Five Things Worth Fixing Before Blaming it on Climate Change Engineer Anwar Ibrahim argues from a different perspective on The Black Iris of Jordan, stating that the causes of the Amman flood are mostly infrastructural.

Jordanian Voices After The Rain The Black Iris of Jordan features five videos of people bitterly reacting after the Amman flooding.

Local Resistance and Urban Protest

Cairo Landscapes: A Battle over History
Sara Verderi argues in this essay in Open Democracy that "The reworking of urban spaces embodying the collective memory of the January 25 uprising is not a novelty, but part and parcel of the state's attempt to rewrite the history of the revolution."

A University Wades Into the Garbage Crisis Al Fanar Media reports on the involvement of a team from the American University of Beirut to try to find a solution to the Lebanese crisis.

Creative Cities: Can Downtown Accommodate The Many Visions For Its Future? Lara El Gibaly writes on Mada Masr about the struggle to keep downtown Cairo a representative and inclusive space.

Featured Resources

Survey Data: usurpation du domaine public maritime Libanais : cinq millions de mètres carrés [in French] Resource centre on local development in Lebanon Localiban publishes data from a 2014 official survey by the Minister of Transporation about illegal infringements on the shoreline.

دراسة: القاهرة من أكثر المدن المسببة للقلق وتلف والأعصاب على كوكب الأرض A German study argues that Cairo is one of the most noisy and exhausting cities in the world.

Report: Conflict Analysis Report: The Conflict Context in Beirut This report provides an analysis of the history and current situation of the conflict context, actors and dynamics in Beirut, including a focus on the social question, subsequent political and social mobilization, gender issues, the securitization of the city, as well asinteractions between the Lebanese host community and Syrian refugees.

New Journal: Revue internationale d’urbanisme The French-speaking Association of Urban Planning School (APERAU) launches the first issue of its journal, which deals with the question of the role of theory in urban planning [most articles in French, one in English].

New Journal Issue: Nouvelles luttes autour du genre en Egypte depuis 2011/New Gender-Related Struggles in Egypt since 2011 Laure Piquemal introduces the latest issue of the journal Égypte/Monde arabe [in French and English].

Tribute to Edward W Soja (1940-2015) Journals and scholars pay tribute to the inspiring urbanist; we mention this tribute by Ayona Datta, as well as the republishing of his interview with Justice Spatiale/Spatial Justice journal: Spatial Justice and the Right to the City: An Interview with Edward Soja [in English and French]

CFA: FURS Studentship and Writing Grants The Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies has issued its calls for studentship grants and writing grants for PhD candidates in urban and regional studies, from countries listed in the World Bank's B and C categories. Deadline is 31 January 2016.  

Recent Jadaliyya Articles on Cities

عن العمارة ونهايتها Yara Saqfalhait and Lana Judeh discuss what architecture and buildings have become in the modern capitalist world, and how this might be stopped.

City Talks: Timothy Mitchell on the Materialities of Political Economy and Colonial History [video] In this first installment of a new Jadaliyya initiative, Omar Jabary Salamanca and Nasser Abourahme talk to the political theorist and historian Timothy Mitchell.

Revisiting Dalieh: Open Ideas Competition and Results The Civil Campaign to Preserve the Dalieh of Beirut has run a competition to collect alternative possibilities for Raouche's Dalieh, which is under threat from construction, in order to be in a strong position for a debate with government officials. The competition is now complete, and Jadaliyya has published a number of articles relating to its process: the Jury Report, the Competition Results, the Background Report, and the Three Winning Entries.

Asad's Officer Ghetto: Why the Syrian Army Remains Loyal Kheder Khaddour approaches this often-asked question from a housing and urban perspective.

Seminaire: Mais que veut donc le peuple? Jadaliyya reports on series of talks which have taken place this semester on the question of spatial and political inequalities in the Middle East. One talk remains, on 16 December 2015, on "Social struggles through the prism of an urban political ecology – the case of energy: Lebanon, Jordan, and Tunisia", by Eric Verdeil.

Seminaire doctoral: Sociétés urbaines mediteranéennes: Histoire et antropologie Jadaliyya reports on a lecture series to be given at INALCO in Paris on the subject of urban Mediterranean societies. More details about individual sessions are given within.

New Texts Out Now: Robert Saliba, Urban Design in the Arab World: Reconceptualizing Boundaries Jadaliyya interviews Robert Saliba about his new book.

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