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Cities Media Roundup (December 2015)

[Jdeyde, Aleppo, 2011. Photo by Lazhar Neftien, via Wikimedia] [Jdeyde, Aleppo, 2011. Photo by Lazhar Neftien, via Wikimedia]

[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 Development and Policies

Norman Foster’s Cairo Redevelopment Has Locals Asking: Where Do We Fit in? Jack Shenker and Ruth Michaleson report for The Guardian about the latest release of an urban project by Norman Foster for the Maspero area in Cairo which, despite smart architecture, seems to reproduce the trends of exclusive neoliberal urbanism.

More Housing or Services? Sarah Eissa writes for Al-Ahram about the struggle over a piece of land and whether it should turned into a housing project or used to provide services such as schools, a hospital, or a park for a nearby densely populated area. 

1068 اعتداء على الأملاك البحرية: هل نحتاج قانوناً أم إرادة سياسية؟ [Arabic] As-Safir covers the growing legal and illegal encroachment along Beirut’s coastline, and considers the role played by corruption.

Khartoum, capitale en mutation [French] Cet article par Alice Franck et Claude Iverné aborde le nouveau contexte de la capitale soudanaise en rapport à la frénésie immobilière, la disparition des camps de déplacés et le départ/devenir des populations "sudistes" résidentes dans la capitale soudanaise.

As European Capital Retreats from Turkey, Arab Investors Step In Foreign direct investment from the EU has dropped by 52 percent over the last year. Yet MENA investors are bullish, doubling their investment in the same period, and now accounting for a similar fraction of total foreign investment in Turkey as the EU. 

Environmental Issues

Sowing the Seeds of Gardening-Based Change at Masdar City This article reports about the concern for green public space that supposedly makes Masdar City different.

La soif du Nord [French] The Tunisian website Nawaat discusses the shortage of fresh water in remote Tunisian mountainous region and highlights the contradictions of State policy. The article includes a video.

Faute de pouvoir les traiter, le Liban va exporter ses déchets [French] Valéry Laramée de Tannenberg reports about the latest decision of the Lebanese government to export garbage instead of treating it locally.

Emergency Measures as Tehran Hit by Pollution Middle East Eye investigates how more than two weeks of heavy pollution have led Iranian officials to ban all outdoor sport, and impose new traffic restrictions as persistent cold weather exacerbated Tehran's air quality problems. 

Cities, Refugees and Conflict

Thinking of Reconstruction amid War: The Aleppo Project A newly launched online platform is encouraging inhabitants of Aleppo to think beyond war and envision a new relationship with their city. 

Seeking Shelter in Jordan’s Cities What happens when, as with the Syrians in Jordan, most refugees dwell outside of camps and simply cannot find decent and affordable accommodations? 

"Refugee Camps Are the “Cities of Tomorrow”", Says Aid Expert In the Middle East, we were building camps: storage facilities for people. But the refugees were building a city.

Trois villes kurdes de Turquie devenues zones de guerre [French] Libération's journalist Ragip Duran reports about the mostly Kurdish cities of Cizre, Silopi and Nusaybin in Turkey, which have become war zones.

Les murs en Méditerranée [French] Anthropologist Cédric Parizot reflects on the various and changing meanings of building walls that prevent migrations in the Mediterranean area, from population movements regulation to repression, and questions their efficiency.

Les réfugiés syriens au Liban s’endettent de plus en plus [French] Journalists Céline Haddad and Julien Abi Ramia report for L’Orient-Le Jour about a recent study showing how Syrian refugees become increasingly indebted as they can neither return home nor find work locally.

No jeans, no cigarettes on the bus from Beirut to Raqqa Al Jazeera English covers the trials of running a public bus service from Lebanon to the heart of IS-controlled territory.

Women’s Rights to Public Space  Since the construction of this space, the women in Fawwar [Refugee Camp, Palestine] have found, in the plaza, a space where not only can they interact but also learn from each other. 

Palmyra arch that survived Isis to be replicated in London and New York Replicas of the entranceway to the former Temple of Bel will be centrally located in the two cities as a “gesture of defiance”.


Photo Essay: Looking for Ramallah ”What I am left with after two years of photographing my hometown is a collection of images that not only expresses the anxiety and claustrophobia within me but also the feeling of chaos, occupation, and tension palpable in the atmosphere.” 

Paper: Battlefields of the Republic: Struggle for Public Space in Tunisia Charles Tripp of the LSE argues that the Tunisian revolutionary moment of 2011 and its aftermath have opened up spaces that are capable of providing a framework for the agonistic politics associated with democratic possibility. 

Essay: Saskia Sassen, Who Owns our Cities? At the current scale of acquisitions, we are seeing a systemic transformation in the pattern of land ownership in cities: one that alters the historic meaning of the city. Such a transformation has deep and significant implications for equity, democracy and rights.

New Journal Issue: REMM, Politiques urbaines et inégalités en Méditerranée [French] The reflections in this issue of Cahiers d’EMAM are the result of a workshop organised by IRMC (Institut de recherches sur le Maghreb contemporain) in Tunis on March 28 and 29, 2014, by Hend Ben Othman Bacha and Olivier Legros.

Investigating Spatial Inequality in Cairo Tadamun’s Planning [in] Justice project […] is particularly concerned with designing ways to measure and visualize the distribution of resources between urban areas to assess the minimum resources necessary for long-term survival of particular communities and increase the level of spatial justice through clear criteria that correspond to local needs.

L’agglomération oranaise (Algérie) entre instruments d’urbanisme et processus d’urbanisation [French] Youcef Kadri and Madani Mohamed, writing in EchoGéo, analyze the unsuccessful attempts initiated by the various urban policies and urban planning instruments engaged in Oran to control the urban growth and to ensure an integrated sustainable urban development. 

Mesures fractales de l’identité morphique pour des tissus urbains dans la ville algérienne de Batna [French] InCybergeo: European Journal of Geography, Abdelmalek Arrouf, Lemya Kacha, and Ahmed Mansouri propose a morphological analysis of self-built neighborhoods in Batna and define common patterns and factors of this kind of urban fabric.

Apocalyptic scenes of Damascus suburb obliterated by violent clashes [Video] RT showcases aerial footage of the Jobar region of eastern Damascus, which has largely been destroyed.

Recently on Jadaliyya Cities Page

The Ambiguous Encampment of the World Lucas Oesch reviews a new book by Michel Agiers, Un monde de camps, and its contributions to the discussion of urban refugee space across the world.

Mukhtars in the Middle: Connecting State, Citizens and Refugees Nora Stel discusses the role of the neighborhood mukhtars in Lebanon's complex political order. 

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