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Cities Media Roundup (May 2017)

[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]

Wars and Refugees

السكن في الحديقة .. حياة اللاجئين أمام المفوضية بمدينة 6 أكتوبر A photo essay by Jihad Abaza for Mada that documents the struggles of Sudanese refugees in the 6th of October City, Egypt, and the spaces they use as shelters.

The Syria Aid Regime that Needed Help Peter Harling, Alex Simon and Rosalie Berthier report for on the malfunctional relationship between international donors and local partners in Syria despite obvious and attainable avenues for improvement.  

Syria’s Reconstruction Plans Take Shape Tom Rollins reports for Al-Monitor on the plans for reconstruction projects by the Syrian regime, and international aid organizations that are underway, though an end to Syria’s conflict is not in sight.

La reconstruction d’Alep, dévastée par la guerre, se prépare en Allemagne L’Orient Le Jour reports on the detailed map of the old city of Aleppo, and its treasures, which are prepared by German and Syrian based scholars, and are classified as World Heritage sites.

Syria from Space: Three Cities in Darkness and Light Eloise Dicker and Mamdouh Akbiek report for BBC News on the impact of the Syrian war through time-lapse frames, which illustrate the country’s electricity network from 2012 till present. The images reveal how the lights have gone out during the course of the conflict, leaving people to survive with little to no power.

From Qamishli to Qamishlo: A Trip to Rojava’s New Capital Fabrice Balanche traces the history of northeastern Syria for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy in efforts to explain the Kurdification process currently endured in Qamishli.


Urban Planning and Development  

المدن الذكية Raymond Khoury reports for Annahar on the need for and advantages of smart cities in the Middle East, in addition to the economic opportunities that would arise in the wake of technological advancement.

Plans Revealed to Transform Unused Abu Dhabi Island Hudayriat Island, a three thousand hectare island located southwest Abu Dhabi is set to be transformed into a mixed-use development, the centerpiece of which will be a thirty kilometers waterfront.

حقيقة المشروع الغامض الذي شل حركة المرور بكورنيش الإسكندرية Basmat Al Saed reports for Al Badil on the challenges posed by tourism and development projects on traffic in the Alexandria Corniche.

Projet de la Marina de Gammarth: l’Etat au service de la corruption Mhamed Mestiri reports for Nawaa on the Gammarth Marina affair, which sheds light on the systematic corruption that governs state institutions in Tunisia.

Housing Issues

بروتوكول تعاون بين << الإسكان >> و  << الأمم المتحدة >> لتطوير المناطق العشوائية Hisham Omar AbdelHalim reports for Al-Masr Al-Youm on the agreement between the Egyptian government and the United Nations to improve the living conditions in ‘ashwaiyyat or unplanned settlements in the urban areas of Egypt.

جهاز مدينة 6 أكتوبر يسترد 5500 فدان (صور) A photo essay by Hisham Omar AbdelHalim for Al-Masr Al-Youm on the removal of unauthorized buildings and illegal uses of government-owned land in the 6th of October City, Egypt.

أهالي منشأة ناصر يعلقون اعتصامهم بعد وعود من << جهة سيادية >> بتحقيق مطالبهم خلال يومين Mustafa Mohi reports for Mada on the protests led by the residents of Manshiyat Naser in Cairo against their displacement; demanding adequate housing or compensation for their losses.

Public Space and Urban Heritage

ماذا نريد من ساحة النجمة؟ Lil Madina Initiative reports on the challenges facing Nijmeh Square, which is located at the heart of the city of Sidon, Lebanon, and suggests potential solutions and plans for its survival.

Le parking du Tell définitivement annulé Suzanne Baaklini reports for L’Orient Le Jour on the cancelation of the controversial underground car park project in Tell square, Tripoli, as a result of the struggle between municipality and civil society organizations.  

Une nouvelle fois, des empiétements légalisés en plein Beyrouth Suzanne Baaklini reports for L’Orient Le Jour on the changes in the allowed land use in Horsh Beirut, the main public park of the city of Beirut, that legalizes its encroachment.

Un rassemblement contre "l’ablation du poumon vert" de Beyrouth Lucile Meunier reports for L’Orient Le Jour on the demonstrations held by civic organizations against the closure of the Horsh Beirut, the largest public park of Beirut, and the recent legal changes which regularize its encroachment.

Heneghan Peng Sets Limestone-Clad Palestinian Museum Among Angular Landscaped Terraces Alyn Griffiths reports for Dezeen on a museum built in the city of Birzeit, Palestine, which is dedicated to Palestinian culture. It features a faceted stone exterior and terraced landscaping that references the traditional terraced landscapes of the West Bank.

The Last Troglodytes of Iran Amanda Proença Santos and Rodolfo Contreras report for BBC on the ancient underground dwellings in Iran that provide shelter for villagers, and their livestock during Maymand’s biting winters.

Urban Infrastructure and Governance 

Une première transition Sukleen-Ramco, sur fond de monticules d'ordures Suzanne Baaklini reports for L’Orient Le Jour on the change in the company responsible for the collection and transport of garbage in Lebanon from Sukleen to Ramco. Despite this change, residents of Beirut continue to face many issues surrounding garbage collection and treatment, particularly, the early saturation of landfills.

Générateurs: le gouvernement veut mieux controller les prix Kenza Ouazzani reports for L’Orient Le Jour on the Lebanese government’s plan to better control the prices of electric generator systems, through the enforcement of greater administrative control, and the imposition of meters to monitor fuel consumption.

Contre les embouteillages, un projet de transports publics en cours d’étude Zeina Antonios reports for L’Orient Le Jour on the project to build a public transport system between Beirut and Tabarja to alleviate traffic congestion at the entrance of Beirut, which is funded by the World Bank. 

Municipal Politics in Lebanon Ziad Abu-Rish reports for Middle East Research and Information Project on the municipal system in Lebanon, which has been a key pillar of debates on administrative decentralization, economic development and political participation.

Urban Policy: A Missing Government Framework Mona Fawaz reports for The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies on the new Lebanese government’s priorities. She argues that a focus on greater spatial and sectoral integration of planning policies, as well as the democratization of planning processes would present opportunities for fostering better livability across Lebanon’s cities. 


New Book: Order and Disorder: Urban Governance and the Making of Middle Eastern Cities Luna Khirfan explores the dynamics between the state, the market, and civil society in Middle Eastern Cities in her new book.

Podcast: Forensic Investigations of Designed Destructions in Gaza Eyal Weizman addresses analytically and descriptively the work of Forensic Architecture, a research agency at the University of London in a conversation with The Funambulist.

New Website: 100 Resilient Cities 100 Resilient Cities is dedicated to helping cities become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.

Recently on Jadaliyya  

Corruption and Reform in Tunisia: The Dangers of an Elitist Analysis Max Gallien and Mohamed Dhia Hammami examine corruption and regionalism in Tunisia, and argue that the “elite conflict” perspective is an inaccurate framing of the developments in Tunisia, and a highly dangerous foundation for proposals advocating reform. They propose an alternative approach to fighting corruption and addressing the ongoing protests in the country in their article.

نقل السفارة الأمريكية إلى القدس قنبلة موقوتة Abd El Raouf Arnaout assesses the threat posed by Trump’s victory in the presidential elections to Palestine, and maps the succession of events that led to the decision on the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

حي البتاويين في بغداد: بؤس قاع المدن Mohamed Almahmoudy examines the Bataween area in central Baghdad and its diverse population, which is bordered by the Tahrir Square to the north, and the Karrada to the south.

The Master Plans of Baghdad: Notes on GIS-Based Spatial History Łukasz Stanek maps the history of the Miastoprojekt’s plans for Baghdad, and documents his experience of working with Geographic Information Systems, and heterogeneous and ambiguous data. He examines the extent to which the Miastoprojekt’s plans guided the development of housing, green spaces, transpiration systems, and heritage presentation in Baghdad from the 1960s to the 1980s, in addition to their effects on architectural culture in Iraq.

Task Force on Population Movement Yemen Report (May 2017) A report summary illustrating the key findings of The Task Force for Population Movement’s report on the status and location of displaced persons across Yemen.

De-Escalation Zones in Syria: Not an alternative for Refugees Asil Sidahmed examines the de-escalation zones created by Iran, Turkey and Russia, and argues that the existence of such “safe-zones” is used as a means to justify the continued closure of the Turkish border for new refugees, the return of existing refugees into Syria, and the displacement of populations inside Syria. 

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