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Cities Media Roundup (March 2017)

[View of Nablus, by Uwea via Wikimedia Commons] [View of Nablus, by Uwea via 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]

Urban Development

Dubai as Manhattan Resembling New York in its towering skyscrapers, high-rise buildings, multimillion-dollar apartments and bustling tourist scene, Business Insider deems Dubai “the Manhattan of the Middle East,” through seventeen photos.

The Destruction of Mecca Serving as Middle East’s largest building project, The Economist explains why Mecca is experiencing cultural demolition.  

Hanwha’s Iraq Project Cruising Smoothly South Korean developers Hanwha Engineering & Construction (E&C) build an urban residential complex in the new city Bismayah, Iraq, about ten kilometers southeast of Baghdad.

The Anti-Cairo Journalist Ursula Lindsey reports for Places on the plan to build a new capital city in the desert of Egypt. The article addresses critical questions surrounding the motives behind the military regime’s project, and its disregard for the immediate challenges of economic austerity and terrorism.

Two Unsustainable Urbanisms: Dubai and Gaza Carboun releases an infographic comparing the two extreme urbanisms of Dubai and the Gaza Strip. While the two urban regions demonstrate surprising similarities when their geographic and demographic data are compared, their political and socio-economic conditions have produced urbanisms that are radically different and equally unsustainable.

Le port de Tripoli veut changer de dimension L’Orient Le Jour reports on the building progress of the Tripoli port. Thanks to new cranes expected to operate from mid-April, the managers of the second port of Lebanon intend to compete with Beirut’s harbor.

Lancement du projet colossal “Cité Mohammed VI Tanger Tech” La Nouvelle Tribune reports on the economic benefits the new city project “Cité Mohammed VI Tanger” will bring to Tangier, Morocco. A video of the project is available here.

Urban Heritage

Patrimoine architectural: le président du Conseil d’État s’explique et met les points sur les  “i” [In French] May Makarem reports for L’Orient Le Jour on the NGO Save Beirut’s appeal to the Lebanese Higher State court to end its hostile policy towards architectural heritage. 

Who Built the Ancient Silk Roads? New research reveals that previous studies used the wrong algorithm to examine the history of the ancient Silk Roads, missing an obvious hypothesis.

Ancient Palace Emerges from Under Mosul Shrine Destroyed by IS Iraq Pulse reports on the discovery of a palace under the shrine of the prophet Yunus which was captured from the Islamic State (IS) in Mosul, Iraq.

Demolition of Beirut’s Iconic “The Red House” Lebanon’s Ministry of Culture allows the Demolition of “The Red House,” a previously protected site in Beirut.

Conflicts in Cities

Naameh Municipality to Close Syrian-run Businesses, those Employing Syrians The Daily Star reports on the implementation of a total ban on Syrian-owned businesses and Lebanese businesses that employ Syrian workers by a municipality south of Beirut. 

The Walled-Off Hotel Controversy The Middle East Research and Information Project reports on British street artist Banksy’s latest installation in occupied Bethlehem, the Walled Off Hotel, and the significant public debate it generated about Palestine-Israel. 

Carthage Cement: la corruption, la confiscation puis la braderie A report by Nawaat on the most emblematic case of corruption in Ben Ali’s Tunisia. 

Israel Closes Palestinian Land Mapping Office in Jerusalem Middle East Monitor reports on the closure of the Palestinian land mapping office in East Jerusalem, which maps and monitors the transfer of Palestinian land to Israelis. The report states that the Israeli military and intelligence ransacked the office, and detained its director. 

Land Tenure and Rights to the City

Investigation: Mohamed Ayachi Ajroudi Grabs Hammamet’s Forest Nawaat reports on the protests organized by the residents of Hammamet, Tunisia, against wealthy businessman Mohammed Ayachi Ajroudi’s illegal expansion of his palace at the foothills of Jbel el Faouara.

Development Threatens Beirut’s Largest Swath of Public Parkland Matt Hickman reports for Mother Nature Network on the lack of public green space in Beirut, a consequence of the mass development and infrastructure projects that have ensued since the end of the Lebanese Civil War, causing “a near-death of urban parkland.”

Les travaux sur la plage de Ramlet el-Baïda interrompus depuis le weekend L’Orient Le Jour reports on the successful protests by Beirut’s civil society against illegal construction of Ramlet el-Baïda beach, the last sandy beach of Beirut.

The Golan Heights and Israel’s Forgotten Occupation Muftah reports on the “forgotten occupation” of the Syrian Golan Heights by Israel in 1967, which saw the establishment of illegal settlements, and the displacement of over one hundred thirty thousand Syrians. The report addresses the lack of attention received by the territory, and calls upon the international community to overhaul its approach to the Golan Heights.


War and Refugees

Politics of Class and Identity Dividing Aleppo- and Syria Syria Deeply reports on the deepening economic and social divisions in Syria which prevent the safe return of refugees to Aleppo, “the city that has become a bellwether for the country’s future.”

Why the War in Syria May Not Be About Demographic Change Syrian researcher Aymenn al-Tamimi refutes claims of sectarian cleansing and Shiification in Syria for Syria Deeply, reevaluating the demographic change. 

Réfugiés: davantage d’arrivées depuis le Liban, moins depuis Erbil Le Monde reports on Dominique Mas, the French consul general of Erbil, who threatened the fate of 269 families of Christians and Yezidis in Iraq.

Syrian Military, Not Rebels, Severed Damascus Water Supply, U.N. Finds The New York Times reports on the conflicting claims by the United Nations and the Syrian government on the military airstrikes in Damascus. Despite government claims of insurgency, the United Nations reports that the military airstrikes were responsible for severing water supplies to 5.5 million people in Damascus since December.

Syrie: La stratégie de la destruction Over the past five years, the Syrian population has been subjected to intense repression by a regime that has implemented a massive policy of destruction, forcing more than half of the Syrians to leave their homes and threaten the future of their country. 

Space of Refuge: A Spatial Installation & Symposium London gallery P21 exhibits the fieldwork of Architectural Design researcher Samar Maqusi, which investigates the spatial production and evolution of Palestinian refugee camps since the 1940s.


New Report: The Palestinian Periphery A report on the communities that are being displaced and dispossessed by Israel’s settlement project and its overall framework of colonization.

New Report: How Regional Security Concerns Uniquely Constrain Governance in Northeastern Syria A new report by the Carnegie Middle East Center is out.

New Report: No Return to Homs A case study on demographic engineering in Syria, which documents the government of Bashar al-Assad’s strategy of besieging, starving, killing, and transferring people from various cities and neighborhoods in Syria.

New Report: Informal Armies: Community Defense Groups in South Sudan’s Civil War As South Sudan’s civil war enters its fourth year, Saferworld explores one aspect of the current crisis: the mobilization and transformation of the country’s many “informal armies.”

New Report: Refugee Heritage In tracing, documenting, revealing and representing refugee history beyond the narrative of suffering and displacement, Refugee Heritage serves as an attempt to imagine and practice refugeeness beyond humanitarianism.

New Journal Issue: Architecture & Colonialism The tenth issue of The Funambulist is out now. The two editorial arguments in this issue hold that colonialism is a system of military, legal, administrative, social, and cultural domination, while architecture is an apparatus, which organizes and hierarchizes bodies in space.

New Special Online Issue: The City at War: Reflections on Beirut, Brussels, and Beyond Extending on the second issue of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research’s “Spotlight On” web series, IJURR authors draw on a range of urban cases and disciplinary perspectives in an attempt to identify the socio-material effects of the new urban geographies of war.

New Article: Geographies of Absence: Radicalization and the Shaping of the New Syrian Territoriality In his article, Omar Abdulaziz Hallaj examines the new geographic realities created by the war in Syria, which include: governance structures, political economies, and cultural paradigms.

Policy Brief: Understanding Statelessness in the Syrian Refugee Context The Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion outlines a range of recommendations for humanitarian actors working with Syrian refugees to enhance their response to statelessness, and ensure the better protection of stateless persons, with the goal of preventing and reducing statelessness in the long-term. 

Book Review: The Sahel: In What State?  Emile Chabal writing for Books&, positively reviews Gregory Mann’s book "From Empires to NGOs in the West African Sahel: The Road to Nongovernmentality," on the history of the Sahel as a state, between precolonial imaginary, colonial structure and postcolonial conflicts.

Podcast: Véronique Bontemps-Naplouse (Territoires palestiniens occupés), des urbanités sous tension In a podcast, Véronique Bontemps studies the case of Nablus, and reflects on the impact of danger on the representations and uses of the city in cases of conflict and military occupation. 

Interview: Vies d’ordures: de l’économie des déchets Aiming to raise awareness on individual and collective management of waste, MuCEM conducts an interview with Denis Chevallier, curator of the exhibition “Waste’s life” in Marseille, France.  

Roundtable: Israel’s Colonial Projection and Future Plans for Jerusalem A roundtable discussion held between Nur Arafeh, Maha Samman and Raja Khalidi, who present the al-Shabaka policy brief “Which Jerusalem? Israel’s Little Known Master Plans” at the Kenyon institute at Jerusalem.

Conference: War and Urban Context The City University of New York will be hosting a conference in New York City on 19 May 2017, in an attempt to examine the critical intersection between war and urban society, culture and the built environment.

Recently on Jadaliyya Cities

The World in the City and the City in the World: Reading the Janet Abu-Lughod Library Zachary Sheldon pays tribute to sociologist Janet Abu-Lughod, and reflects on his encounter with her personal collection of over eight hundred books at the Columbia Global Center in Amman.  

Dark Beirut: The (In)Visibility of Electricity Daniele Rugo, Abi Weaver, Dana Abi Ghanem and Maria Kastrinou study the visibility of electricity in Beirut’s urban landscape, and the much less visible set of ad hoc solutions and systematic practices governing the electricity crisis.

Layaly Badr narrates poetically the city of Areeha (Jericho) in occupied Palestine أريحا





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