[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 here.]
A l’approche de la période électorale en Tunisie: Séisme aux conseils municipaux [French]
More than a dozen municipalities have announced their dissolution because of the resignation of the majority of their members. And this, after only one year of the first free municipal elections in the history of Tunisia. Behind apparent malfunctions between mayors and councilors, partisan strategies and personal interests always seem more powerful than the movement of decentralization, held back by a power that only has eyes for the presidential elections.
Sidi Hassine : La gouvernance locale enrayée par la mainmise de l’Exécutif (Tunisia) [French]
Located 18 kilometers from the main artery of the capital, the area of Sidi Hassine seems not to have benefited from the "blessing" of the capital. Abandonment of school, overpopulation, pollution, precarious public services, such are the key problems that suffers this region according to the local elected representatives and the deputies of the district Tunis 1 which includes Sidi Hassine.
نهاية الشوادر البيضاء: المشهد الأخير؟ [Arabic]
Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar reports on the dismantlement of Beirut’s famous Sunday flea market and its move to another area of the city.
How Beirut’s shared taxis cope with Uber
The article explains the curious case of Lebanon’s shared taxis.
Regulating Informality: spaces of everyday consumption in Riyadh
Riyadh has its share of historic markets as noted earlier. Over the years however much of that changed. Retail activities moved indoors to specialized shopping centres, malls and food courts. The purchase of food has become part of a corporatized structure making it anonymous and less personalized. And yet in spite of this change the informal still persists indicating a strong desire to move beyond packaged presentations and to purchase products directly from the people who produce them.
Housing and Planning Issues
New cities in the sand: inside Egypt’s dream to conquer the desert
Writing for the Guardian, Rachel Keeton and Michelle Provoost cover Egypt’s cities building programme, one of the most ambitious in the world. Having started four decades ago, their boom shows no sign of stopping.
Egypte : « Sisi City », un mirage en construction [French]
In the desert, east of Cairo, President Al-Sisi's dream of greatness materializes: to build a new capital, a showcase for the Egypt of the future. The exorbitant cost of the project in a context of serious economic crisis compromises its realization, and its ultra-safe aim creates controversy.
Assessing Decentralization in the Arab Region: Lessons for Syria from Iraq, Morocco and Tunisia
The weakness of current governance arrangements and the inefficiency of decentralization reforms were exposed with the wave of contestations that have rocked the Arab world since 2011. Effective governance remains in decline across the region, and an assessment of why decentralization efforts failed to deliver on real political participation and devolution of power is essential.
Despite vacancies, housing prices remain high
A recent survey of buildings in Beirut constructed over the past two decades, carried out under the Beirut Building Database project by researchers with the Social Justice and the City program at the American University of Beirut’s Issam Fares Institute, found that almost 25 percent of apartments built after 1996 - in total, more than 8,200 apartments - were vacant.
Lusail: sleek new city offers glimpse of Qatar's post-oil future
“The Qatari government hopes Lusail will position the country as a model for the Middle East in terms of sustainability, human development, economy, tourism, and sport. When the city’s 80,000-seat stadium hosts the opening match and final of the 2022 football World Cup, the eyes of the world will be upon it.”
A Prince’s $500 Billion Desert Dream: Flying Cars, Robot Dinosaurs and a Giant Artificial Moon
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince turned to U.S. consultants for help imagining a massive new city-state in a barren section of his kingdom. What emerged was a Jetsons-style world of automation.
War, Conflict, Displacement, and Urban Protests
À Miyé w Miyé, la situation surréaliste des Libanais qui tentent de récupérer leurs maisons squattées [French]
Since 1967, the inhabitants of South Lebanon have been waiting in vain for trials against the Lebanese State to be executed to reclaim their houses and lands.
War by Other Means
Khalil El-Hariri explains how postwar reconstruction in Syria, as in Lebanon previously, is about ensuring continued control of territory. Article also available in Arabic.
Urban Interventions for the Wars Yet to Come
In a wide-ranging interview, Hiba Bou Akar shows how urban planning is being used to turn some neighborhoods and urban peripheries in the Middle East into militarized frontier zones between competing political, military and sectarian organizations guided by the dystopian logic of a war yet to come.
Lebanon: Syrian Refugee Shelters Demolished
The Lebanese Armed Forces demolished about 20 Syrian refugee shelters on July 1, 2019, contending they did not comply with long-existing, but largely unenforced, housing codes, Human Rights Watch said.
Syrian refugees forced to destroy their own homes in Lebanon
Writing for the Guardian, Bethan McKernan reports on the demolition ordered by the military that left 5,000 families homeless again.
Vie et destruction d’Alep vues par ses habitants, même [French]
Through the pages and the intertwined stories of the inhabitants of Aleppo forced into exile, Cécile Hennion offers us a reading which carries far, in the memory of the survivors, through the trajectories of a broken youth and the transmission between the generations.
Reconsidering Space, Security and Political Economy in Baghdad
Omar Sirri is a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Toronto. His doctoral dissertation is an ethnography of law and security practices in contemporary Baghdad, and their relationship to political-economic transformations across the city.
Culture and Urban Heritage
Rebuilding Aleppo: 'We cannot preserve the place but we can save our memories'
Aleppo’s infrastructure needs reconstruction, but Facebook group the Encyclopedia of Popular Aleppian Proverbs is also trying to rebuild the city’s ties to its culture and history, Laura Mackenzie writes.
Qu’est-ce qu’un ksar pour un mozabite? [French]
This article is based on a thesis defended at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales by Nora Gueliane. It concerns the study of the solidarity with M'Zab (Algeria) through the cases of new ksour. The article focuses more specifically on the notion of ksar and has as a geographical framework the M'Zab Valley in southern Algeria.
Unesco lists Iraq's Babylon as World Heritage Site
Unesco's World Heritage Committee voted to list the sprawling Mesopotamian metropolis of Babylon as a World Heritage Site after three decades of efforts by Iraq.
Despair as Turkey prepares to flood one of the world's oldest cities
The ancient city of Hasankeyf is on the brink of going completely submerged when a reservoir behind the new Ilusu dam is filled over the next few months.
Une forêt urbaine près du fleuve de Beyrouth [French]
Beirut RiverLess is a project developed by an architectural firm, The Other Dada. The initiative aims to address the deterioration of the river and its negative impact on local communities and the environment.
Green Dreams: Reviving the Gardens of Riyadh
“Looking at the most recently available data about parks that have been developed shows quite an impressive achievement in terms of sheer numbers. The provision of green services is structured along with size, location, and targeted users. The largest are city parks (mutanazahat) accommodating users from across the city; on various occasions, they become sites for celebrating national and religious events.”
Urban planning can make the Middle East more resilient to outside forces
According to The National’s Jamal Saghir. cities are vulnerable to internal and external pressures but coordinated public-private sector development can help build a sustainable future.
Lebanese politicians warn of imminent waste crisis in Beirut and beyond
Lebanese politicians have warned that rubbish could start piling up in the streets of Beirut again by early September, four years after demonstrations against a similar refuse crisis brought the country to a standstill.
Cities and Belonging in the Gulf Arab States
On 24 July, the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington hosted a panel discussion examining the growth of the modern Gulf Arab city. The video of the discussion is available here.
Khalid Madhi, Urban Restructuring, Power and Capitalism in the Tourist City: Contested Terrains of Marrakesh
Jadaliyya interviewed Khalid Madhi on his new book that focuses on the processes of urban restructuring, power relations, and the political economy of touristic authenticity.
The Desert Is Slowly Taking Over Dubai, And The Photos Are Remarkable
The United Arab Emirates is becoming known more and more for its skyscrapers and luxurious surroundings, but Australian photographer Irenaeus Herok used his drone to show that the desert is still a huge part of the UAE, and it's not going anywhere.
IAS Book Launch: Routledge Handbook on Middle East Cities
Presenting the current debate about cities in the Middle East from Sana’a, Beirut and Jerusalem to Cairo, Marrakesh and Gaza, the book explores urban planning and policy, migration, gender and identity as well as politics and economics of urban settings in the region. The launch is taking place on October 7, 2019, at 17:30-20:30 BST, at UCL Gower st. (IAS Common Ground, Ground Floor, South Wing), London.
This media roundup has been compiled by Christophe Maroun with the help of Jadaliyya Cities Editors.