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Cities Media Roundup (March 2016)

An aerial view of the Kaaba the surrounding construction site in Mecca. [Image from Wikimedia] An aerial view of the Kaaba the surrounding construction site in Mecca. [Image from 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]

War, Conflict, and Urban Protest

De-Urbanising the Syrian Revolt Isal al-Khafaji writes for the Arab Reform Initiative that the population movements in Syria and specifically the arrival of migrants in major cities has contributed to de-urbanize the revolt.

Sur, Génocide Culturel et Social D’après Massacre [In French] This unsigned reports for the online journal KEDISTAN documents the politics of expropriation in the mostly Kurdish city of Suf in Turkey.

Jordan to Allow 200,000 Syrians to Work Legally The Emirati journal The National reports about the recent decision to allow Syrian refugees to work in Jordanian export-oriented free zones, with relaxed labour regulations, where they will probably replace Egyptians and other foreign workers.

A l’Est de Damas, Au Bout Du Monde. Témoignage D’un Révolutionnaire Syrien (préface) Political scientitst Thomas Pierret prefaces Dick el-Mehdi’s testimony on his life as a revolutionary in the Eastern Ghouta of Damascus for five years.

Le Tollé Contre Le Parking de La Place Tell Se Poursuit L’Orient-Le Jour reports about public protests in Tripoli against the building of a parking in the Lebanese second city's central square that would threaten the popular buzzing activity in the area.

L’hiver de La Contestation Sociale Se Prolonge [In French] Nawaat reports about the continuing protests and sit-ins in Tunisia's interior cities.

Migration Interne, Marché de L’emploi et Disparités Régionales [In French] Nawaat reports about an interesting study highlighting the intense migrations inside Tunisia.

Housing and Planning Issues

الزمالك.. حي آخر يطرد سكانه [in Arabic] A discussion about the state of Zamalek, one of Cairo’s upper class neighborhoods, including how it has changed over time, and the forces that are pushing its residents to leave. The article has links to other articles about Zamalek.

Comment Les Wahhabites Ont Transformé La Mecque En Disneyland [in French] Jamal Boushaba relates the historical transformations of Mecca over the centuries and critisizes the most recent changes under the rule of the Wahabis as Disneyfication.

Creating New Public Space in Lebanon’s Tripoli (PHOTOS) Victor Argo presents the proposal of design student Christine Attiyeh in order to improve the public spaces in Tripoli around the river.

في رام الله «رمانة»... لا هي مطعم ولا مقهى ولا مركز ثقافي! [in Arabic] Al Hayat reports on the conversion of an old house in the city of Ramallah into a “third space” which is used for multiple purposes such as cooking, playing music, reading, and much more.

Returning to past glory Al Ahram covers the reactions of residents and shop owners to the Cairo Governorate's plans to renovate one of downtown Cairo’s oldest streets.

Vulnerability and Displacement in Beirut Mona Khechen, writing for Legal Agenda, argues that Beirut's neoliberal housing policies are a key factor in the displacement and emigration of Lebanese from their country.

ممرات وسط البلد.. فرص مهدرة [in Arabic] Al Masry Al Youm discusses the downtown alleys of Cairo and what policies can be put in place to preserve and protect them.

Loi Sur Les Loyers : En Maintenant Le Flou, Les Autorités Veulent Pousser Propriétaires et Locataires à S’entendre à L’amiable [in French] Anne-Marie El Hage reports for L’Orient-Le Jour about the delays in publishing the bylaws of the new Rent Law, which pushes owners and renters to reach a compromise.

رحلة قصيرة عبر الزمن إلى دبي القديمة [in Arabic] Shorouk News looks into the history of old Dubai and its connection to the creek.

One Thousand and One Dalieh, Imagined Beirut (Tales of Citizens’ Resistance) Doctoral student Alex Mahoudeau summarizes a seminar held at IFPO (French Institute of the Near East) about the mobilization against the privatization of the Dalieh area in Beirut.

An urbanist's guide to Cairo: a city weighed down by stereotypes Mohamed Elshahed writes for The Guardian, arguing that the usual urban depiction of Cairo as a city out of control is only partially true. "[Cairo] is a hard city that can take its toll on its residents but the potential to turn things around is omnipresent."

A Look Back: 8 Years of Social and Urban Projects ArchDaily presents a list of 24 exemplary architectural projects designed to ameliorate the effects of various global crises. The projects are divided into three categories: social housing, community, public space.

Ecological Issues

Garbage Politics Jadaliyya editor Ziad Abu Rish, writing for the Middle East Research and Information Project, analyzes the origins and the government responses to the garbage crisis in Lebanon. Despite the dilemmas the protest movements had to face and the persisting fault line that seem to have silented it at the moment, he stresses the long term imprint these actions will left in Lebanese political life.

Waste Management Key to Regaining Public Trust in the Arab World The World Bank argues that garbage crises across various Middle Eastern states are symptomatic of the lack of legitimacy of political elites. The article is also available in French and in Arabic.

Climate Change Contributes to Worst Middle East Drought in 900 Years A Recent NASA study provided evidence that the Middle East is experiencing the worst drought in years and suggests it has accentuated the current political crisis in the region, the Middle East Eye reports.

Water wars intensify between Egypt, Ethiopia Al Monitor discusses the rising hydropolitical tensions surrouding the use of the Nile waters and the potention constructon of further dams.

Tunisia faces tough strategic choices as demand for energy begins to outstrip supply Moëz Charif, writing for the the World Bank, discusses the challenges Tunisia faces in meeting its energy needs.

Featured Resources

The Journal of Urban Design has published a series of articles on the topic of sustainability and urban design. The full list of articles, along with links to download them, is available from the journal's website.

Cairo: A Museum of Ghosts Ursula Lindsey describes how the artistic scene in Cairo has been affected by repression under the present military government.

Owning the street A look at how a street theatre group was formed in one of Cairo’s historical neighborhoods, and the importance of such activities in appropriating urban space.

17th N-AERUS Conference: 2016 Gothenburg (Sweden) Call for abstracts for a conference on 'Governing, Planning and Managing the City in an Uncertain World', taking place between 17-19 November 2016.

La bataille de la rue, l'éxperience de New-York [in French] A collection of photographs and an interview with Janette Sadik-Khan, detailing the changes she made to New York traffic during her tenure as the commissioner of the City's Department of Transmission.

The story of cities A new series of articles in The Guardian explores the origins and history of cities from a global perspective, including articles on Benin City and Potosí. For a specifically Middle Eastern interest, see #1 Alexandria and #3 Baghdad.

The "Deep Administration" in Tunisia: Is Change Impossible? Sharaf al-Din al-Yacoubi on Legal Agenda considers the future of political change in Tunisia in the face of stubbornness from the pre-revolutionary bureaucracy.

Nelson Garrido captures the modern architecture of Kuwait's Golden Era A collection of photographs published by Dezeen magazine online.

Revue de Presse - Ville, Mars 2016 - CEDEJ - Égypte [In French] The monthly press review of cities in Egypt by the team of the French Social Sciences Center in Egypt.

Recently on Jadaliyya

New Texts Out Now: Caecilia Pieri, Bagdad. La construction d'une capitale moderne, 1914-1960. Jadaliyya interviews the author of this book about how the process of urban modernisation contributed to the development of Baghdad.

New Texts Out Now: Kishwar Rizvi, The Transnational Mosque: Architecture and Historical Memory in the Contemporary Middle East. In conversation with Jadaliyya, Rizvi discusses his study of the architecture of various state-sponsored mosques and how official ideologies can be seen through them.

The Ouarzazate Solar Plant in Morocco: Triumphal 'Green' Capitalism and the Privatization of Nature. Hamza Hamouchene discusses eco-projects in Morocco as a method of land appropriation.

CFP: Unfolding Middle Eastern Landscapes (Beirut, 31 May-2 June) All call for papers for a conference on the meaning of landscape, jointly organised by the Lebanese Landscape Association (LELA) and the American University of Beirut.

"Cleaning out the Ghettos" - Urban Governance and the Remaking of Kurdistan Nicholas Glastonbury and Defne Kadıoğlu discuss the history of housing policies in the Kurdistan region of Turkey, and their role as a technique of political control.

New Texts Out Now: Abir Saksouk-Sasso, Making Spaces for Communal Sovereignty: The Story of Beirut's Dalieh Saksouk-Sasso discusses her article on the history of Dalieh through the prism of public space.

New Texts Out Now: Nadine Bekdache, Evicting Sovereignty: Lebanon's Housing Tenants from Citizens to Obstacles Jadaliyya interviews Bekdache about the transformations which have taken place in Lebanese housing policy over since independence, and the effects this has had on how tenants are conceived.

Call for Papers: Conflict and Living Heritage in the Middle East: Researching the Politics of Cultural Heritage and Identities in Times of War and Displacement A call for papers for a conference organised by IFPO (the French Institute of Near East Studies) and the Social Studies Department of the American University of Iraq to take place on 10 and 11 May 2016 in Sulaymaniya, in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Sevan Nisanyan icin izan talep ediyoruz! / The Sevan Nisanyan Question [in Turkish and English] A petition protesting the unjust imprisonment and sentencing of the Turkish artist and author Sevan Nisanyan.

New Texts Out Now: Mona Harb and Sami Atallah, Local Governments and Public Goods: Assessing Decentralization in the Arab World Cities Page editor Mona Harb and her co-author Sami Atallah discuss their recent book with Jadaliyya, covering the history and development of decentralization as a technique of governance in the Arab world and its effects on the provision of services.

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