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Cities Media Roundup (December 2016)

[Screenshot from [Screenshot from "Camp Pause" by Dictaphone Group]

[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]



New Towns, Smart Cities, and Local Urban Governance

The Politics of Starchitecture in Abu Dhabi Scholars Davide Ponzini and Michele Nastasi publish excerpts from their latest book in the CityLab. They show that the plan behind Saadiyat Island is filled with landmark designs and document how little influence architects can have on city building initiatives today.

Algérie: Sidi Abdallah, un modèle de ville moderne et d’organisation urbanistique harmonieuse The new town of Sidi Abdallah (west of Algiers) recently inaugurated by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is presented in this official communiqué as a model of modern city and of harmonious urbanism.

Quelle définition de la smart city pour Casablanca ? This website sponsored by construction group Bouygues Immobilier reports on the first “Smart City expo” organized in Casablanca last May, and posits that the Moroccan metropolis wishes to reinforce its position as the Moroccan economic capital.

Professionalizing Local Administration in al-Minya al-Minya governorate in Upper Egypt (five million population) managed to accomplish something quite unique. It set up a physical planning consultancy unit within the governorate that operated so professionally it rivaled some of the leading local consultancy offices, and managed to generate significant revenues for the governorate

Urban Activism

10Tooba: Developing an Inclusive Urban Policy Invest-Gate speaks to Yahia Shawkat, one of the founders of the 10Tooba organization, about their work, urban development, and the vision for Egypt moving forward.

Barricades on the Beach: Beirut Residents Fight for Their Waterfront Reuters reports about the mobilization of Beirut militants against allegedly illegal construction on the last public beach in the city.

The Value of Public Space: A View from Kuwait In Kuwait as well, there are signs that the right of public access to common urban spaces is slowly taking hold of people’s urban consciousness. 

المدينة، من يرسم مستقبلها؟ إن تغيير المعادلة القائمة لا يتطلب فقط سياسات ومؤسسات عامّة جديدة، وإنّما إشتراك السكان كجسمٍ مطلبيّ به، لأنهم يواجهون هذه التحديات بصورةٍ يوميّة، ويمتلكون العديد من الأفكار والممارسات المحليّة التي تجعل من هدف تحقيق العدالة إمكانيّةً حقيقيّة 

Urban Mobility

طلاب AUB: هكذا ستكون الطريق الجديدة أفضل Al-Modon reports on the exhibition that showcased the works of the American University Beirut’s students of the urban planning workshop on Tariq al-Jdideh’s neighborhood, focusing on urban mobility. 

Le métro du Caire en extension continue Journalist Frédéric Dubessy from Econostrum, on a website sponsored by the European Investment Bank, explains that in order to decongest the traffic, Cairo’s authorities are investing in the extension of the metro. The third segment of metro line #3 is under work and will link the city center, the airport.

Transport urbain en Tunisie: 2016, ou le renouveau de la stratégie nationale CODATU Transport expert Mathieu Martin contends that after fifteen years of decline, the Tunisian urban transportation sector is at a turning point with big investments in mass public transportation in Tunis and Sfax, the second national city. However, the coordination between the many actors remains a key issue that needs to be tackled.

Cairo Traffic Congestion Study The World Bank advertises the release of a new study documenting the reasons of congestion in Cairo and the possible solutions to alleviate it. 

Urban Heritage

Façades of Algiers Algerian architect and photographer Rachida Ouar portrays the diverse and shifting exteriors of Algiers’ buildings, in an attempt to get people to look closer at the city.

Urban Refugees and Vulnerable Urban Groups

Palestinian and Syrian Refugees in Lebanon: Sharing Space, Electricity and the Sky Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh discusses the importance of interconnecting refugee histories in Baddawi camp, Lebanon, home to Palestinian refugees since the 1950s and now also host to Syrian refugees. 

المنكوبين في طرابلسحي Al-Hayat reports on a poor urban neighborhood in Tripoli (North of Lebanon) where people have little options to survive, and no viable access to education.  

الإخلاء يهدد أحياء بيروت القديمة: التحوّل الجارف للمدينة Al-Akhbar Lebanese daily reports on the tenants still renting homes in the neighborhoods of Beirut according to the old rent law, using the study of Public Works.


Interview with R. Sidi Boumedine: “La vision du bidonville en Algérie, c’est presque comme la vision coloniale” Mustapha Benfodhil from Al Watan interviews planner and sociologist Rachid Sidi Boumedine about his latest book Bidonvilles and Bétonvilles, where he writes the history of the planning of the city of Algiers, and shows the continuity in officials’ attitudes towards the slum.

Mapping: Neighborhood Shelter Damage Percentages in Aleppo City The Unites Nations Institute for Training and Research releases a map that illustrates the percentage of buildings damaged in the city of Aleppo, Syrian Arabic Republic, as determined by satellite imagery analysis as of September 2016. The data are available for download.

New Journal Issue of Kohl: Bodies and Borders The fourth’s issue of Kohl: A Journal for Body and Gender Research is out, featuring papers on “Bodies and Borders.”

New Report: Decentralization and the Future of the Syrian State The Arab Reform Initiative examines decentralization as a new political system for a future Syria and invites Syrians to go beyond the sectarian divides generated by the Assad regime to articulate a model of decentralization that reflects Syria’s past and present realities. 

New Report: Conference Proceedings “Creative Cities” The conference proceedings of “Creative Cities,” co-organized by CLUSTER, AUC, and SUNY are now online. Papers discuss comparative and interdisciplinary approaches to public space, heritage and urban culture, gentrification and securitization, and urban governance.

New Spatial Data Atlas on Lebanon and the Arab World This mapping project makes data on development and food security more available, user-friendly, and intuitive for users, in both English and Arabic. Lebanon Spatial supports the dissemination of information and data on food security and development, for easier use by the general public, policymakers, and researchers. IFPRI established the original Arab Spatial website as a regional and bilingual resource to post and map data on food security, in an effort to support research and learning on this topic in the MENA region.

Syria Untold: Cities in Revolution  [in Arabic]

Recently on Jadaliyya Cities

The Five-Square-Meters Maid’s Room: Lebanon’s Racist, Gendered Architecture  Bassem Saad discusses how most residential projects in Lebanon feature a very small room for the maid’s use, and analyzes this practice in contemporary architecture as a concrete manifestation of institutional gendered racism against foreign workers, in the public and private sectors. 

New Texts Out Now: Syrie, anatomie d’une guerre civile Adam Backzo, Gilles Dorronsoro, and Arthur Quesnay discuss their new book on Syria’s civil war. 

الناصرة المدينة الباقية قليلة هي الأبحاث التي كُتبت عن الناصرة في العقود الستّة الأخيرة. السؤال الأوّل الذي يُطرح في سياق الحديث عن االناصرة هو: هل الناصرة مدينة أم هي قرية تضخّمت على نحوٍ عشوائيّ ودونما تخطيط 

استراحة مخيّم: روايات من مخيم الرشيدية والبحر يستكمل "استراحة مخيم" اهتمامنا بالبحث في علاقة الأفراد والمجموعات بالبحر وبحيّزهم الطبيعي. المشروع هو عبارة عن تركيب فيديو قمنا بتطويره مع أربعة من سكان مخيم الرشيدية. صوّرنا مساراتهم اليومية من منازلهم باتجاه البحر حيث قادنا كل مُشاركومُشاركة نحو المشهد الأخير ليختار مكان تواجده مع خلفية البحر  

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