[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.]
Pékin conforte son implantation au Maghreb [French]. Adel Abdel Ghafar & Anna Jacobs cover China’s gradual reinforcement of its presence in the central Maghreb and, more generally, in North Africa.
Une capitale chinoise pour l’Égypte ? Au Caire, le profil de la « nouvelle capitale » [French]. In this third issue of "Form of a City" series, Carlo de Nuzzo dissects the Egyptian government's gigantic project to relocate its capital a few kilometers from Cairo, in a new city, all of iron and steel. This pharaonic project looks to hide the real and deep tensions that agitate the current Egyptian capital.
Housing and Planning Issues
Parts of Beirut becoming unaffordable for locals. “According to studies, landlords, NGO’s and professors, whom Daily Star has been speaking to, it’s a patchwork of problems, in different housing sectors of society, - gentrification, development in rental prices bolting development in salaries, Western foreigners outbidding Lebanese in the most expensive areas, landlords taking advantage of Syrian refugees at the expense of poor Lebanese on in low-income areas, Solidere and a lack of political regulations.”
The World the Gulf Has Built. Deen Sharp writes the Gulf region and its role in shaping global capitalism: “How exceptional can a region that produces so much of the energy that powers contemporary capitalism be? Or that is such a central player in the global financial system, as the GCC now is, home to technology companies, global real estate interests, outposts of elite Western universities, and experiments in urban design?”
Construction of US $1.5bn Alexandria Metro in Egypt to begin next month. The construction of the US $1.5bn Alexandria metro underground system in Egypt will begin in October this year, according to Abdul Aziz Qansua, the Governor of Alexandria; approximately more than 20 years since the conception of the idea.
CEDRE Capital Investment Plan: Scrutinizing the Allocation of Projects and Funds Across Regions. Large disparities in infrastructure quality have exacerbated persistent regional inequalities in economic development. In order to tackle this issue, the government developed a Capital Investment Plan (CIP), outlining 269 projects in all major infrastructure sectors of the economy. The plan was presented at the Conférence économique pour le développement, par les réformes et avec les entreprises (CEDRE), and received funding pledges amounting to $11.06 billion, equivalent to roughly a fifth of the national GDP.
Worlding Cities in the Middle-East and North Africa – Arguments for a Conceptual Turn. This article suggests analyzing megaprojects in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region as worlding practices, hence, as a way to influence emerging countries’ own status of being in the world.
War, Conflict, Displacement, and Urban Protests
Young Syrian Architects (YSA) at the time of crises. This research paper by Ammar Azzouz addresses this gap and contributes to the knowledge of cities at war. It aims to understand the roles of architects at the time of war and focuses particularly on the possible ways to support them in their struggle to save their cities and protect their heritage.
‘They are barbaric’: Turkey prepares to flood 12,000-year-old city to build dam. The ancient settlement of Hasankeyf will soon be submerged as part of a controversial dam project – despite residents’ protests.
Syrie : les impasses de la reconstruction [French]. As the war in Syria entered its ninth year, the issue of the challenges of rebuilding the country is regularly raised. But what does it cover?
Neighbors at War in 1975-77 Beirut. When it comes to retracing the urban history of Beirut, the long-established narrative often considers the war as a compact parenthesis confined by two distinct actions: destruction and reconstruction. While focusing mainly on the division of the city and the loss of its old center, this representation ignores other significant aspects that have characterized living in certain warzone neighborhoods.
Lebanon’s October Uprising
Ongoing Post on Protests in Beirut/Lebanon (Jadaliyya Co-Editors in Beirut). This is an ongoing post with updates on the protests in Lebanon.
Rage Against the Sectarian Machine. In an important and timely contribution for the Urban Violence Research Network blog, Dr. Sara Fregonese provides a rich and scholarly analysis of the protests in Lebanon, and the local, urban grievances that became the engines of unrest.
صيدا: لا هدنة في الثورة [Arabic]. Sidon: No truce in the revolution. Even after the resignation of Saad Hariri’s cabinet, protesters in the coastal city of Sidon have not left the streets. The revolution has created new public spaces where constructive discussions about the country’s future are taking place.
Lebanon’s Tripoli Rises Above Lingering Effects of War to Revolt. In this article, Omar Said covers the city of Tripoli during the Lebanese revolt: “Meanwhile, Tripoli’s rich history of organized labor is apparent in the language used in the revolutionary banners displayed across the city that adopt the vocabulary of class struggle. ATMs have been plastered over with slogans like “down with capitalism” and calls for politicians to return stolen funds.”
Liban : même à Nabatieh, le mouvement de colère n’épargne pas le Hezbollah [French]. Lebanon is still protesting against its corrupt political class, but Hezbollah has called its supporters to order. But even in Nabatieh, the movement of anger does not spare Hezbollah.
Liban : un soulèvement populaire qui remet tout (ou presque) à plat [French]. On Thursday, October 17, in the early evening, sporadic rallies popped up here and there in the streets of Beirut in response to the announcement of new taxes. In a few hours, the ranks of the protesters grew. They became tens of thousands, in all the neighborhoods of Beirut, all the cities of the country, and among all the communities. In many ways, it is a real turning point in the history of this country. Starting with the fact that beyond the claims, the very form it takes reverses de facto confessional logics.
How the Story of the Lebanese Protests is Being Told Through Art by India Stoughton. “Murals and graffiti scrawled in the streets present one artistic contribution to the protests, but more significant are the hundreds of artworks circulating on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of the role social media is playing in the protests, from informing users of the ever-shifting security situation across the country to reporting violence and human rights violations as well as requesting reinforcements and supplies.”
Culture and Urban Heritage
La Casbah d’Alger part en ruines: «L’Etat a tout volé, même l’argent de l’Unesco» [French]. A microcosm of Algeria’s ailments and paralysis, the Kasbah of Algiers, classified World Heritage of Humanity, continues to collapse. Marked by the trauma of the past - the war against the French colonists, the black decade - it comes out of twenty years of Bouteflika’s reign that have impoverished its population and ruin its built.
Muscat: Where the Arab World Meets the Indian Ocean. “Due to centuries of Omani seafaring, empire, and trade, Muscat is today a spectacularly diverse port town that looks more to the seas east, north, and south for inspiration rather than to the barren flats and scraggy mountains of the Arabian Peninsula to the west. Oman is a kaleidoscope of Indian Ocean worlds, connected to Sindh, Zanzibar, Baluchistan, Iran, and Yemen just as much as it is to the Arab world, and it’s not afraid to admit it.”
Musicians bring art to streets to save picturesque hill in Amman. A group of Jordanian artists is working to preserve the cultural heritage of Amman’s beloved Jabal Luweibdeh area and protect it from overdevelopment.
In search of Kim Philby's Beirut – when the city was all about soul. The Lebanese capital that the Cold War-era double agent once called home was full of beauty, intrigue and charm. Sadly, it is increasingly suffocated by concrete, cars, and generator fumes these days.
Le roman de Dubaï [French]. In his novel, Camille Ammoun tries to tell the story of the cosmopolitan city of Dubai, it’s multiple idioms, diversity of inhabitants and their different trajectories.
Rising seas threaten Egypt’s fabled port city of Alexandria. Samy Magdy reports for AP on Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria that now faces a new menace in the form of climate change.
Privatisation, infractions, érosion : en Tunisie, les plages sous pression [French]. Faced with the growth of the tourist industry and lawless constructions, the users and the defenders of the environment are worried for Tunisia’s beaches.
The Making of a Water Crisis. The article covers the decades of bad policies and governance that got Morocco on the brink of a water crisis.
تزايد الآمال بوقف سد بسري على وقع الفضائح المالية والبيئية: نفق جرّ المياه إلى بيروت ملوث بعصارة مطمر الناعمة؟ [Arabic]. Growing Hopes to Stop Bisri Dam on Financial and Environmental Scandals: Water Tunnel to Beirut Contaminated by Landfill leachate?
Securitisation of urban electricity supply A political ecology perspective on the cases of Jordan and Lebanon by Eric Verdeil. Questions about urban infrastructure, resilience, and violence are central to current urban general literature since infrastructures function as locations of conflict and negotiation over the public good, inclusion and exclusion, and mobility in the city. This chapter develops a theoretical framework to analyse the emergence of new concerns for urban energy security in the cities of Amman (Jordan) and Jbeil and Zahleh (Lebanon).
Recently on Jadaliyya Cities
Arbella Bet-Shlimon, City of Black Gold: Oil, Ethnicity, and the Making of Modern Kirkuk (New Texts Out Now). Interview on Jadaliyya with Arbella Bet-Shlimon.
Haim Yacobi and Mansour Nasasra, eds., Routledge Handbook on Middle East Cities (New Texts Out Now). Interview on Jadaliyya with Haim Yacobi and Mansour Nasasra.
Kıvanç Kılınç and Mohammad Gharipour, eds., Social Housing in the Middle East: Architecture, Urban Development, and Transnational Modernity (New Texts Out Now). Interview on Jadaliyya with Kıvanç Kılınç and Mohammad Gharipour.
L’électricité comme fil conducteur des transformations urbaines d’Istanbul dans Cette chose étrange en moi d’Orhan Pamuk [French]. This article seeks to emphasize the originality of a story that gives a central place to electricity. The novel is structured around this form of energy used as the material sign of the modernization of Istanbul. Inspired by encounters caused by a power cut experienced in 1995 in Istanbul by the writer, this literary choice gives electricity a status of common thread in the impressive metamorphosis of Istanbul between the late 1960s and the beginning years 2010.
Municipal Debt and Financial Dependence in Jordan: The Case of Zarqa. In this article, Camille Abescat focuses on local politicians’ responses and strategies to overcome the new austerity measures. Through which means do elected municipal members sustain their political legitimacy? How do they manage to maintain public services and to implement new urban projects in the absence of public funds? What are the consequences of these practices the local configurations of political power and public action?
Echoes of a Depth Unknown. Dima Srouji reports on how Israeli authorities are erasing and silently rewriting the history of the ancient city of Samaria, one fragment at a time.
Life Contained in Gaza. In this piece, Francesco Sebregondi reports on the tools Israel uses in its continuous blockade of the Gaza strip.
Can you explain your concept of "city-zenship"? Mona Fawaz from the American University of Beirut explains the concept of “city-zenship”.
The Lebanese Politics Podcasts – Episode 55: Public Spaces. The Lebanese Politics Podcasts is joined by Mona Harb, professor of urban studies, planning, and politics at the American University of Beirut to talk about the fracturing of Beirut's public space, its social consequences, and how urban activists have targeted public spaces to enact political change.
Beyond Cement Competition. Public Works Studio, in collaboration with the Order of Engineers & Architects in Beirut, and Tripoli, and under the auspices of the Union of Koura Municipalities, is pleased to launch an open competition for inclusive alternative solutions that simultaneously address the environment, the local economy and urbanization in Chekka and the Collar Towns.
Horsh Beirut Competition. As part of its efforts to reclaim public access to Horsh Beirut, and in line with its advocacy campaign to protect the site from all types of infringements, NAHNOO -in conjunction with POMED (Project on Middle-East Democracy) and BEIRUTIYAT, and under the patronage of the Order of Engineers and Architects (OEA) in Beirut, and in collaboration with the Urban Planners’ Association UPA, is launching a competition to solicit alternative visions that would strengthen the role of Horsh Beirut as an inclusive public space.
Atlas of Lebanon. After fifteen years of reconstruction in a relatively peaceful environment spanning the years 1990 to 2004, Lebanon has experienced successive violent political events resulting from complex entangled internal and external struggles. The Syrian crisis and its political, economic and demographic consequences on Lebanon have increased these tensions. This atlas sheds light on these new challenges and adds new data that complete the analyses already published in the Atlas du Liban.
This media roundup has been compiled by Christophe Maroun with the help of Jadaliyya Cities Editors.