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Cities Media Roundup (February 2016)

[The dam at Mosul, Iraq. Image from Wikimedia Commons] [The dam at Mosul, Iraq. Image from Wikimedia Commons]

[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]

War, Conflict, and Urban Protest

The Yemeni City of Taiz is on the Brink of Famine, the U.N. Warns "The city is a significant battleground in the nearly yearlong conflict between the government of President Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi, which is supported by a Saudi-led coalition, and Houthi forces, which have ties to Iran. Humanitarian groups have called for investigations into human-rights abuses by all sides in the conflict."

Voyage au cœur des sit-ins de 2016 [in French] Journalists and militants Abdelmajid Haouachi et Gorkem Duru write for Nawaat about the continued protests in the small size interior towns of Tunisia, where young people protest the lack of jobs and the inaction of the government.

"Homeland : Irak année zéro:" Bagdad, ville ouverte [In French] French film critic Mathieu Macheret, writing for Le Monde, acclaims the film Homeland: Irak année zero by director Abbas Fadhel.

A Geography of Revolt in Alexandria (Egypt) Youssef El Chazli takes us inside Alexandria’s revolt in January 2011 and contrasts it to the better-known story of the anti-Mubarak uprising of 25 January 2011 in Cairo, showing us the ways in which the protest in Egypt’s “second capital” ballooned because of the geographically transgressive choices of its protesters.

The destruction of Sur: is this historic district a target for gentrification? David Lepeska writes for the Guardian on the destruction of Diyarbakır's historic Sur district, and the connections between the military and economic aspects of Turkey's repression of the Kurds.

MENA Quarterly Economic Brief, January 2016: The Economic Effects of War and Peace The World Bank releases an assessment of the losses incurred by the current state of war in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The city where war is the best employer: life in liberated Aden Ghaith Abdul-Ahad describes daily life in Yemen's Aden, where the apparent "liberation" of the city from the Houthis has not led to an increase in stability.

Rupture du barrage de Mossoul : Le scénario catastrophe qui pèse sur l’Irak [In French] Press report about the risk that fighting between ISIS and the Iraqi army might result in the collapse of the Mosul dam, already lacking basic maintenance, flooding Mosul and the Euphrates valley as far as Baghdad.

Au Liban-Nord, pas de cimetière pour les réfugiés syriens Patricia Khoder reports for L’Orient-Le Jour about the difficulties encountered by Syrian refugees in northern Lebanon to burry their deceased relatives due to the lack of available graves in Lebanese cemeteries and the cost incurred.

Iraq Begins Construction on Baghdad Wall "The Iraqi government has embarked on the construction of a wall around Baghdad to protect the capital from terror attacks that have been ongoing since 2003 and to isolate it from hotbeds in the northern and western parts of the country. Sunnis object to the move, fearing the wall will deepen internal divisions."

Housing and Planning Issues

Habitat insalubre: Tanger, Tétouan et Ksar El Kébir, déclarées villes sans bidonvilles fin 2015 [In French] A news report responds to the claim by Moroccan officials that the cities of Tanger, Tetouan and Ksar El Kebir are now without slums, as a result of a state policy of displacing inhabitants of informal settlements.

Egypt’s New Capital City: Construction of First Phase to Provide 1.5 Million Jobs An official announcement that construction has restarted on Egypt’s new capital project after an Emirati company withdrew over disagreement about the project’s cost. They have been replaced by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation.

Rawabi, la Palestine urbaine [In French] Press report for Le Monde about the arrival of the first residents in the long awaited and contested urban project developed by a Palestinian businessman, and the difficulties he had to cope with especially to deliver basic services.

Le roi mécontent de l’évolution urbanistique de Casablanca [In French] Aziz Badda reports for the website about the recent pause in urban projects in and around the medina of Casablanca, between heritage, living conditions and speculation.

Bayt Lothan Closing Down, Turning into a Mall (Kuwait) Bayt Lothan, a non-profit organization that has become an important community center hosting a variety of workshops and events, is being evicted from their current property in Salmiya (Kuwait).

Allies and Morrison to Masterplan New City District in Oman ArchDaily reports that architectural firm Allies and Morisson is chosen to design the masterplan of Al-Irfan, a new city district of Muscat, Oman, after a competition organized by the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Something is Rotten in the State of Tunisia This is a country whose government seems unwilling or incapable of conducting desperately needed reforms, and whose economy is flat, where living conditions for the majority have deteriorated since they overthrew their erstwhile dictator, Ben Ali, five years ago.

La hausse de la taxe sur l’essence partie pour être enterrée [In French] Philippe Hage Boutros reports for L’Orient-Le Jour on the public controversy surrounding the tax increase, proposed by a member of the Lebanese Parliament to compensate the financial loss for the budget due to the decline of gasoline prices, and its likely final withdrawal in 2016.

Ecological Issues

What Happened to Beirut’s Shoreline Walk? Habib Battah reports on the Solidere’s plan to implement a Shoreline Walk, a series of interlinking gardens retracing the original coastal outline of the Beirut—still missing in action.

Morocco Inaugurates First Phase of World's Largest Solar Plant Once all phases are complete, it is to be "the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world," and produce five hundred megawatts of electricity, providing power to more than one million Moroccans by 2018, its developers said.

Algérie: La gestion des déchets doit être transformée en une filière économique [in French] Several Algerian public officials consider the economic potential of an integrated approach to sorting and recycling solid waste.

Rabat aura sa cité verte: Green Tech Valley [in French] Moroccan group Marita, in association with the Islamic Band for Development, launches a 3.5 hectare urban project dedicated to high technology and medical activities, in addition to luxurious retail and residential development, along the Bou Regreg River in Rabat.

Bou Faour part en guerre contre les municipalités contrevenantes [In French] Health Minister Bou Faour denounces Lebanses municipalities that burn solid waste instead of dumping them, reports L’Orient-Le Jour.

Les ordures de Beyrouth continueront d’être collectées, assure Chbib As the solution of exporting solid waste to Russia proved marred with corruption and stalled, the quest for local solutions restart while threats of lack of available space for temporary storing looms, L’Orient-Le Jour reports.

Oil-Rich Persian Gulf Looks to Renewables to Avert Water Crisis Anna Hirtenstein reports for Bloomberg about the connection between the rising need of water in the Gulf countries and the planned use of renewable energy to address it.

The French NGO Gret, currently active in Mauritania, has released two reports about its activities in the water and waste waste sector: Les métiers de l’eau et de l’assainissement: Portraits d’acteurs en Mauritanie-Projet Aïcha and Améliorer l’accès à l’eau et à l’assainissement en Mauritanie: Pour une plus grande implication des communes dans les services d’eau et d’assainissement [both in French].

Featured Resources

New Article: Tracing the Dynamics of Bahrain’s Land Reclamation Omar AlShehabi and Saleh Suroor author a new article in early view in Antipode, entitled: “Unpacking Accumulation by Dispossession, Fictitious Commodification, and Fictitious Capital Formulation: Tracing the Dynamics of Bahrain’s Land Reclamation.”
Algérie: Débat à Oran sur la “ville intelligente” [in French] Press report about a seminar held at CRASC, a social science research center at the University of Oran.

Interactive Mapping: Mapping The Apartheid The interactive map, using easy-to-understand graphics, creates a simple tool that brings international attention to the apartheid policies occurring specifically in Hebron while still reflecting the reality facing The West Bank as a whole.

Photo-Essay: Daily Life in a Besieged City (Douma, Syria) Photographer Firas Abdullah who lives in the city, took the following pictures of the city and its residents.
Revue de presse: VILLE Janvier/Février 2016 [in French] The Centre d'Études et de Documentation Économiques, Juridiques et Sociales (CEDEJ), based in Egypt, has produced a press review of articles about Egyptian cities from a variety of different perspectives.

Internships and Research Opportunities (Lebanon) Lil Madina Initiative (Saida region, Lebanon) calls for internships and researchers to contribute to its projects.

Signs of the times "Design, they believe, is not just a profession. It is a culture and a social responsibility. It can, they confidently proclaim, ‘change the world.’ For the time being, it certainly appears to be transforming the Jordanian façade."

Recently on Jadaliyya Cities

Conference: AUB City Debates 2016: March 2-4 The yearly City Debates conference has been organized by the graduate programs in Urban Planning, Policy and Design (MUPP-MUD), at the American University of Beirut. Links to the timetable and speakers are available. The Debates are public and there is no need to register.

(Auto-)Mobility in the Global Middle East (Part 1, Part 2) A two-part report on a workshop held at the Centre for Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Birmingham (UK) in November 2015. The first part establishes an overarching framework for approaching questions of modes of transportation and mobility within a Middle Eastern context. The second part considers the specific case of Beirut and the various mobilities which are at play there.

New Texts Out Now: Ward Vloeberghs, Architecture, Power, and Religion in Lebanon Jadaliyya interviews the author on the intersection between political and religious statements in modern Lebanese architecture, adding a new layer to the investigation of Rafiq Hariri's role in the reconstruction of Beirut.

Report: The Welfare of Syrian Refugees: Evidence form Jordan and Lebanon This new report, produced in cooperation with the World Bank and the UNHCR, attempts to gather information of the financial and social status of refugees in both countries in order to evaluate the progress of existing policies.

إسرائيل في القدس الشرقية: من الحسم الجغرافي إلى الحسم الديموغرافي [in Arabic] Abd El Raouf Arnaout examines the policies used by Israel in attempting to make Palestinians a minority in East Jerusalem.

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