[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 email@example.com, mentioning “Roundup” in the subject line. We also welcome your submissions to the Cities Page: please check details on the Submission pane of Jadaliyya.]
Urban Development and Heritage
“Cairo Has Started to Become Ugly”: Why Egypt Is Building a New Capital City The promise of escape from the congestion of central Cairo to a new life 40km away on the city’s outskirts is fetishized for those able to afford it.
Past Concerns About Building the Future: Do the guiding designs of the towns of Damour and Dabiyah encourage return? Under these circumstances, societal tension, and sectarian intimidation are increasing. What did the local authorities do to deal with the concerns of the past and the requirements of the present?
Reportage in Sakra: On the Border of the "President's Hometown" Dwells Poverty and Mosquitoes Sidi Ferg is known as the "neighborhood of the wealthy," but it clashes with the al-Fateh neighborhood, where some of those we spoke to told the polling station that it was the most marginalized and impoverished neighborhood in the city.
Freespace: architects rethink space and the city – in pictures The Guardian Cities Urban Eye reports on the 2018 Biennale Exhibition taking place in Venice that showcases work from some of the world’s most exciting architects.
Iraq’s Crumbling Basra Yearns for Glory Days Tired of the state failing to restore ancient buildings, local artists are trying to revive a once-vibrant cultural life.
What the New Sharjah Architecture Triennial Means for the Middle East “Architecture and urban planning were—and still are—fundamental to the development of Emirati cities and therefore can be read as a language for expressing their respective identities, their relationships to history, and their ongoing dialogues with other nations and cultures.”
Dubai’s Aspirations To Launch Flying Taxis With Uber May Have Hit Turbulence Now, Uber’s website makes no mention of Dubai in its call for an international city to host uberAIR.
Why Cairo Cannot Wait A conversation with Galila El-Kadi, an architect and prominent campaigner for the conservation of old Cairo, about the challenges that face historic Cairo and the preservation of its different sites and spaces.
Rejuvenation of a Green Epoch A look at the history of some of the historic parks and gardens of Cairo and current efforts to revitalize them.
Saving Cairo on the Nile An article that traces the changing architecture and spaces of Khedival Cairo and recent attempts to “save Cairo on the Nile.”
Metro Ticket Price: protests, arrests and concerns of passengers A discussion of the impact of the increase of metro fare on the daily movement of Cairo’s residents and the challenges the fare increase have generated for working men and women.
Story of cities #3: the birth of Baghdad was a landmark for world civilisation Baghdad, City of Peace, had already become the center of the world, capital of the pre-eminent Dar al-Islam, home to pioneering scientists, astronomers, poets, mathematicians, musicians, historians, legalists, and philosophers.
Lightweight Wooden Deployable Structure Aims for Large Social Impact Without Leaving a Mark Architecture students of the American University of Beirut used an ephemeral design to approach the lack of awareness of marine biodiversity and responsible use of the coast of Tyre.
Urban Activism in Oligarchies and Opportunities for Political Change The study of urban activism in Lebanon reveals that, even in oligarchic political orders, under certain conditions, urban activism may generate productive opportunities for emancipatory collective action.
On Temporality and the Gulf City: Talking to Deepak Unnikrishnan Mashallah News met Unnikrishnan Mashallah News met Unnikrishnan at campus one afternoon to talk about his relationship with Abu Dhabi, how it features in his writing, and how he teaches storytelling to his students.
Local and Regional Policies and Governance
How Mohammed Bin Salman Has Transformed Saudi Arabia “The social contract in the kingdom was not so much based on the exchange of oil wealth for political subordination but rather on violence—and the extreme threat thereof—coupled with religious legitimation, in return for subordination in all realms of life.”
Municipal Elections 2018 - An Unprecedented Citizen Approach for Results Before the Time In Tunisia, the civil society that is the bearer of this collective effort gives proof of a maturity that encourages citizen engagement, as an alternative to the automatic criticism of the system.
In Tunisia, "Independent" Forces Emerge from Municipal Elections "We will not delay to render account, that many ‘Independents’ are not as independent as we thought." Indeed, a big part of these candidates are flown covertly by the traditional parties who preferred, in some cases, to hide under a mask.
The Changing Culture of Election Campaigns in Lebanon In this changing political environment, it is the old guard that should be worried, or at least less comfortable, and that could be a good thing for everyone.
Environmental Sustainability and Land
Cities from the Sea: The True Cost of Reclaimed Land “Fish are being wiped out, and the fishermen will soon be too as they lose fishing grounds.”
Two Sides of the Tripoli Coastal Dump Wall Collapsed This landslide, the second this week, is yet another illustration of poor waste management in Lebanon.[In French]
The Sorting Plant in Tripoli is Not Responsible for Bad Odors, Says the Manager "The sorting plant is the only safe environmental solution for treating Tripoli's waste." [In French]
Lebanon’s Endlessly Circular Power Plan Last month, ministers endorsed a plan to secure temporary electricity for Lebanon while power plants are built – in the apparent fourth revival of a thrice-failed approach.
Issues of Public Space in Beirut
The Untouchable Hotel With construction of the first major real estate project on Beirut’s last public beach nearly complete, the question is not only how many Eden Bays are out there, but how many more there will be.
Framing the Lebanese Seashore: Crowding Out Public Interest “All these institutions monopolize the invested public property and erect barriers to prevent citizens from free access, contrary to all the laws that 'guarantee the rights of others.'”
Beirut’s Dalieh: A Temporal Space of Refuge In the context of the rapid shrinkage of public spaces in Beirut and the increasing demand for shoreline real estate, Dalieh remains as one of the few natural places that the public can access – for now.
Beirut POEM Project Researchers at AUB are developing a mathematical model of the city of Beirut that can be used to predict air pollution levels, street-by-street and hour-by-hour.
Architecture students reflect on public space in Beirut using the city as a canvas "These interventions aim to seek, to host, to challenge, to improve, to engage, and to question the city, reacting to the event that is taking place here and now.”
Coastal Privatization Approval Causes Concern A coastal resort project in the northern town of Anfeh has been thrown back into the spotlight in the past week as reports emerged that it would be approved before the Cabinet entered caretaker status.
War, Refugees, and Reconstruction
10m Syrians at Risk of Forfeiting Homes Under New Property Law “This could be ethnic cleansing by stealth, not dissimilar to absentee laws we have seen before.”
Syria’s Yarmouk Camp: From a “War on Stomachs” to “Annihilation” "We can't say this is a war. In war, there are emergency medical teams, hospitals, shelters, a chance for a truce, and for safe corridors, but here, it's annihilation."
Syrian Entrepreneurs Thrive in Turkey, Boost Economy In the Turkish city of Gaziantep, home to around half a million Syrians who fled the civil war south of the border, hundreds of Syrian businesses are thriving in a boost both for the displaced community and their host country.
You Can Stay in Beirut A recent policy briefly put forth by the American University at Beirut’s Issam Fares Institute asserts that the dearth of appropriate housing options is one of Lebanon’s most endemic urban problems. It is safe to speak of an ongoing housing crisis, one that forces a substantial number of Lebanese citizens, refugees, and migrant workers to dwell in inadequate conditions, lacking security and access to basic services.
From Warsaw to Moscow: the conservation community reflects on the issue of urban reconstruction In a recent report, a UNESCO senior advisor writes about how the intensification of conflict situations in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa prompted an important reflection among heritage professionals, aimed at discussing the way in which the existing conservation principles could be revised or interpreted in ways that would give due consideration to the rights of the communities to bring back to fruition their destroyed heritage.
Contemporary Amman and the Right to the City. Call for papers: Conference organized by IFPO, the Columbia Global Center in Amman and Studio X Amman the 3d and 4th November 2018. Deadline for proposals: 30th June 2018.
Press Review on Urban Cities Egypt, prepared by the CEDEJ [In French].
Recently Published on Jadaliyya Cities
Joanne Randa Nucho, Everyday Sectarianism in Urban Lebanon: Infrastructures, Public Services, and Power (New Texts Out Now)
Youssef El-Chazli, ed. “Everyday Alexandria(s): Plural Experiences of a Mythologized City.” Special Issue of Egypt Monde Arabe (New Texts Out Now)
Luna Khirfan, ed. Order and Disorder: Urban Governance and the Making of Middle Eastern Cities (New Texts Out Now)