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Cities Media Roundup (October 2016)

[A protest outside the Palace of Justice in Istanbul. Photograph by Ayşe Öncü] [A protest outside the Palace of Justice in Istanbul. Photograph by Ayşe Öncü]

[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 Planning and Heritage

Beirut to Build New Modern Art Museum Beirut is to get a new modern art museum with a design inspired by Italian campaniles and Arabic minarets. BeMA, the Beirut Museum of Art, will feature a slender tower rising 124 metres into the sky.

Pour la sauvegarde de la grande brasserie du Levant (Beirut) [in French] Such a huge project, replacing such an iconic building, is a violent act which can only lead to the disintegration of the precious urban fabric.

What’s it’s like to live among the clouds in remote mountain villages in Yemen Perched in the upper altitudes of Raymah province are villages, centuries-old houses of stone that stud a series of mountains. Though these people are largely sheltered from the raging Yemen war, the remote lifestyle creates basic survival challenges.

Land Tenure and Rights to the City

Securing Land Tenure in Egypt: Who Needs Registered Titles? In this collection, planner David Sims argues that land titling initiatives in Egypt have always failed due to State resistance against granting titles to citizens.

ما العمل في مسألة ساحل بيروت والرملة البيضا؟ [in Arabic] Mona Fawaz argues why and how Lebanese public actors do not protect our collective rights to a livable city. 

شاطئ الرملة البيضاء: عقارات خاصة على أملاك عامة [in Arabic] Ramlet el-Bayda public beach in Beirut incorporates private lots which public authorities are allowing to be developed into a private touristic resort.


Economics and Migration

Reliés à Chypre, les pirates brisent le monopole étatique et cassent les prix [in French] Journalist Anne-Marie El Hage reports for L’Orient-Le Jour about the illegal internet service providers in Lebanon and their links with illegal neighborhood based providers of electricity and TV.

Jordan Struggles to Keep Economic Fires Burning Sara Elizabeth Williams writes that "Four in ten Jordanian workers have left to work abroad, providing at least twenty percent of GDP through remittances."

Kasserine: Un milliard de dinars en suspens Journalists Walid Mejri and Kais Zriba report about stalled regional development projects in the deprived city of Kasserine in the remote southwestern Tunisia.

The Black Market Kings of Damascus Nour Samaha, writing in The Atlantic, outlines how the conflict in Syria has created a war economy which has made some people rich.

Migration as Sgency Lina Atallah's article on Mada Masr suggests that the decision to migrate should be viewed in its full economic and historical context.


The Keeper of the Tigris: Protecting Iraq’s Ancient River Nabil Musa is the first "waterkeeper" in Iraq and the Middle East. His mission is to protect the waterways of northern Iraq, and specifically, the upper Tigris River, so that its water remains swimmable, fishable, and drinkable.

Gaza Agriculture on the Brink of Collapse Al-Monitor's interviews with Gazan farmers show the extent of the economic damage wrought by the Israeli embargo as the Strip slides towards being, in the UN's words, "unfit for habitation."

Jordanians Protest against Israel Gas Deal for Third Week in a Row Middle East Eye reports on the continuing unrest.

Pénurie d’eau: solutions mobiles, crétinisme fixe [in French] Engineer Saber Dahi, in an op-ed for Nawaat, criticizes the expensive and shortsighted solutions the Tunisian public water utility has adopted to fix water shortages, and pleads to instead fix the leakages caused by the lack of proper network maintenance.

Planter des graines en ville, un acte politique [in French] Journalist Taycir Ben Nacer reports for Nawaat about several NGOs' initiatives of planting seeds in urban streets in Tunisia and their political meaning.

Appel d’offres de la collecte: Sukleen écartée au profit de Soriko [in French] L’Orient-Le Jour reports that the Lebanese private waste collection company Sukleen, in charge of the service since 1994, has lost the market to Soriko.

Conflict and Cities

Beirut’s Lessons for How Not to Rebuild a War-Torn City Julia Tierney warns that the example of Solidere in Beirut may paint a grim picture of the future of cities like Aleppo.

Beirut’s Museums of War and Memories Preservation is important to prevent the city from being swept by amnesia about the war—and to prevent it from happening again.

Jemna, dernière lueur de la révolution (Tunisia) [in French] Political activist and cartoonist Sadri Khiari writes an op-ed in Nawaat justifying Jemna’s farmers struggle as a revolutionary moves and a fight for the people rights.

Jemna: et les autres oasis ? (Tunisia) Journalist Taycir Ben Nacer examines in Nawaat how the farmers and jobless people in other oases than Jemna evaluate the fight in Jemna.

Jemna, ou la résistance d’une communauté dépossédée de ses terres agricoles (Tunisia) Geographer Habib Ayeb analyses the mobilization of farmers in the oase of Jemna, South Tunisia, where in 2011 the people have reclaimed their collective rights, of which they had been deprived by the colonizers and then the independence state.

Protests Erupt in Egyptian City of Port Said Middle East Eye staff reports that "Egyptians chanted 'house us or kill us' in street protests against the rising cost of housing in the country".

Syrians Under Siege: The Role of Local Councils Journalist and scholar Sabr Darwish examines for the Arab Reform Initiative the case of several Syrian Councils and how they provide essential services.

"Jungle" de Calais: la drôle d’autogestion d’"un brouillon de ville" Maryline Baumard reports for Le Monde about the diverse forms and actors of the self-management of the Jungle in Calais, as the State began to eradicate the refugee camp.


New e-zine: Anthropocene Our mission is to curate a global conversation about data, technology, and innovation that lead to solutions to the persistent environmental challenges of our time.

Thousands of Maps for Free Download The David Rumsey Map Collection database is now available online. The website contains more than seventy-one 71 thousand maps and images that span the 16th to the 21st century, and illustrate everything from the seven continents, to the entire world and even celestial bodies.

Le droit au sol dans les villes du Sud [in French] Geographers Armelle Choplin and Éric Denis introduce an ongoing online thematic issue on the right to land in cities of the global South.

Conference Proceedings: Divercities, Competing Narratives and Urban Practices in Beirut, Cairo and Tehran Proceedings from the conference are now available to download.

Cities and Political Change: How Young Activists in Beirut Bred an Urban Social Movement Mona Harb's report for the Instituto Affari Internazionali details how the dismal state of Beiruti public services provided the spark for a successful urban youth movement.

Recently on Jadaliyya

رام الله المدينة... إلى أين؟ Jamil Hilal discusses the urban development of the Palestinian interim capital, Ramallah, and the role played in this process by the presence of the Palestinian Authority headquarters.

An Emergent Political Icon on the Landscape of Istanbul: The Palace of (In)Justice Ayşe Öncü explores the design, purpose and function of Istanbul's Palace of Justice, or Çağlayan, as well as its role as a symbolic space for protests.

Snapshot: Cairo in Berlin A slideshow of images by Nourhan Khalid, cataloguing the traces of the Middle Eastern and Arab presence in Berlin.

ما وراء الحيّز المكاني: القدس الشرقية، كفر عقب، وسياسات المعاناة اليومية This article by Doaa Hammoudeh, Layaly Hamayel and Lynn Welchman outlines the less physical aspects of the divisions separating East and West Jerusalem, focusing in particular on the fear, trauma, and social disjointedness Palestinian experience on an everyday basis.

L'espace des révoltes: considérer la géographie urbaine des printemps arabes [in French] Roman Stadnicki reviews Deen Sharp and Claire Panetta's edited collection Beyond the Square: Urbanism and the Arab Uprisings.

Everyday Iraq Tamara Abdul Hadi writes about the Instagram feed Everyday Iraq, which functions "as a window to shed light on the more human side of the country." This article includes an image gallery.

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