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    Viewpoints Special Edition

    Architecture and Urbanism

    in the Middle EastThe Middle East Institute

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    2/842 e Middle East Institute Viewpoints: Architecture and Urbanism in the Middle East

    Te mission of the Middle East Institute is to promote knowledge of the Middle East in Amer-

    ica and strengthen understanding of the United States by the people and governments of the


    For more than 60 years, MEI has dealt with the momentous events in the Middle East rom the birth o the stateo Israel to the invasion o Iraq. oday, MEI is a oremost authority on contemporary Middle East issues. It pro-vides a vital orum or honest and open debate that attracts politicians, scholars, government ocials, and policyexperts rom the US, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. MEI enjoys wide access to political and business leaders

    in countries throughout the region. Along with inormation exchanges, acilities or research, objective analysisand thoughtul commentary, MEIs programs and publications help counter simplistic notions about the MiddleEast and America. We are at the oreront o private sector public diplomacy. Viewpoints is another MEI service toaudiences interested in learning more about the complexities o issues aecting the Middle East and US relationswith the region.

    o learn more about the Middle East Institute, visit our website at

    Cover photos, clockwise rom the top le hand corner: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (Imre Solt; GFDL); ripoli, Libya(Patrick Andr Perron GFDL); Burj al Arab Hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Al Faisaliyah ower in Riyadh, Saudi

    Arabia; Doha, Qatar skyline (Abdulrahman photo); Selimiye Mosque, Edirne, Turkey (Murdjo photo); Registan, SamarkandUbekistan (Steve Evans photo).

    Middle East Institute

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    Viewpoints Special Edition

    Architecture and Urbanism

    in the Middle East

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    Architecture and Urbanismin the Middle East

    A Special Edition oViewpoints

    Introduction 6


    Labyrinth: Moroccan Medinas, by Simon OMeara 7

    ourism and Preservation in Colonial North Arica, by Brian McLaren 10

    Cairos Plurality o Architectural rends and the Continuous Search or Identity,by Ashraf M. Salama 13

    Egypt: Modernity and Identity, by Nasser Rabbat 16

    Jerusalem Architecture: Old Is Bitter, New Is Ugly,by Annabel Jane Wharton 19

    Global Capital, Urban Regeneration, and Heritage Conservation in the Levant,by Rami Daher 22

    Te Contemporary Built Environment in the Arab Middle East,by Mohammad al-Asad 26

    Conservatism versus Modernism: Hesitant Urban Identity in Saudi Arabia,by Mashary A. Al-Naim 29

    Old Heritage, New Heritage: Building in Sanaa, Yemen,by Michele Lamprakos 34

    all Identity...Lost Sustainability,by Yasser Mahgoub and Anas Al-Omaim 36

    Doha: Between Making an Instant City and Skirmishing Globalization,by Ashraf M. Salama 40

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    Te Reconstruction o Abu Dhabis Central Market,by Yasser Elsheshtawy 44

    Dubai: Selling a Past to Finance the Future?, by Kevin Mitchell 48

    Modernizing and De-Modernizing: Notes on ehran, by Mina Mareat 53

    Bam: Rebuilding a Historic City, by Mina Mareat 57

    From the op Down: Aerial and Satellite Views of the Middle EastsBuilt Environment

    angier, 2001 62

    Algiers, 1996 63

    Cairo, 2000 64

    Jerusalem, 1999 65

    Beirut, 2000 66

    Amman, 1999 67Damascus, 2000 68

    Kuwait City, 2001 69

    ehran, 1998 70

    Dubai, 1973 and 2006 71

    Kabul, 2001 72

    Te Gul at Night, 1992-2003 73

    Selected Bibliography 74

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    MEIs special edition o Viewpoints on Architecture and Urbanism in the Middle East is an opportunity to cel-

    ebrate the beauty, diversity, and vitality o the built environment o the region. It is also an opportunity to consider the

    challenges acing architects, designers, and developers in their eorts not only to preserve the rich cultural heritage o

    Middle Eastern cities but to shape these urban spaces in ways that address the physical and socioeconomic pressures

    occurring within them.

    Indeed, as the contributors to this volume demonstrate, the Middle Easts built environment is at an important junc-

    ture. Tere are major choices to be made i the regions urban development is to meet the needs and expectations o its

    peoples. Te 15 essays comprising this volume are snapshots o the built environment arcing rom the Maghreb through

    the Levant to the Gul.

    aken together, the essays suggest the need or a new paradigm o designing Middle Eastern urban spaces or sustain-

    ability comprehensive in that it encompasses all physical components o human settlements such as buildings, streets

    public spaces, and inrastructure; balanced in that it supports physical and economic growth while accommodating the

    traditional and cultural needs o the local community; responsive in that it protects and enhances the health, saety, and

    general wellbeing o inhabitants; and innovative in that it incorporates new technologies into designs so as to reduce

    the stress on the natural environment.


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    Labyrinth: Moroccan Medinas

    Simon OMeara

    Simon OMeara is Assistant

    Proessor o History o Art

    at the American University

    of Kuwait. He researches

    the sociological dimensions

    o Islamic art and architec-

    ture, with a regional focus

    on North Africa.

    By anyones estimation, the medinas o Morocco are singular. Much is uncommonabout these gated and walled premodern cities that today orm just one part o a numbero Moroccan municipalities (e.g., Fez, Marrakech, etouan, and angiers). And much is

    evocative about the word medina itsel, connoting, or example, o blind walls, hidden

    lives, and orbidding, twisting passageways. Nevertheless, it is important to understand

    that these medinas are the ruition o a long experiment in Arab-Muslim urban design

    that has its roots in the pre-Islamic past and its decline in modernity.1 In other words,

    or all their apparent inscrutability and potent connotations o traditional Muslim lie,

    these medinas are neither timeless nor an immutable expression o Arab-Muslim, in-

    cluding Moroccan, civilization.

    Te duration and number o mor-

    phologies in this urban experiment is

    debatable, but not the act that todays

    medinas belong to the nal stage. For

    the urban historian Andr Raymond,

    this culminating morphology dates to

    approximately 1500-1800 and is best

    reerred to as la ville traditionelle,the traditional city, as opposed to la ville classique, the classical city, the stage that

    preceded it.2 Following another historians chronological model, this earlier stage dates

    to the beginning o the 11th century,3 when it in turn was preceded by another, slightly

    1. Key articles in English on this subject include Hugh Kennedy, From Polis to Madina:Urban Change in Late Antique and Early Islamic Syria, Past and Present,Vol. 106 (1985),pp. 3-27; Jere Bacharach, Administrative Complexes, Palaces and Citadels: Changes in theLoci o Medieval Muslim Rule, in Irene Bierman et al., eds., Te Ottoman City and its Parts:Urban Structure and Social Order(Rochelle: Caratzas, 1991), pp. 111-28; Donald Whitcomb,An Urban Structure or the Early Islamic City: An Archaeological Hypothesis, in Amira K.

    Bennison and Alison L. Gascoigne, eds., Cities in the Pre-Modern Islamic World: Te UrbanImpact of Religion, State and Society (London: Routledge, 2007), pp. 15-26.2. Andr Raymond, Arab Cities in the Ottoman Period: Cairo, Syria and the Maghreb(Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002), p. 35.3. Jean-Claude Garcin, Le moment islamique (VIIe-XVIIIe sicles) [Te Islamic Moment(7th-18th Centuries)], in Claude Nicolet et al., eds.,Mgapoles mditerranennes: Gographieurbaine rtrospective. Actes du colloque organis par lcole franaise de Rome et la Maisonmditerranenne des sciences de lhomme (Rome, 8-11 mai 1996) [Mediterranean Megacities:Retrospective Urban Geography. Minutes from the Colloquim Organied by the French Schoolo Rome and the Mediterranean House o the Sciences o Man (Rome, May 8-11, 1996)](Paris/Rome: Maisonneuve et Larose/cole ranaise de Rome, 2000), p. 99.

    Figure 1: Fez, Ras Aluyun neighborhood

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    dierent morphology, and so orth.

    Space prevents the enumeration o each stages dening characteris-

    tics (supposing this even could be done ully, given the incomplete

    evidence or the pre-traditional stages), but with reerence to Moroc-

    can history it seems clear that the earliest phase was rudimentary

    ortied townships built by the warring Idrisid dynasty (789-949) in

    their eorts to colonize and Islamicize the western Maghrib.4 And

    although all subsequent stages were complicit to some degree in this

    hegemonic program, what we nd today in a traditional medina such

    as those in Fez and Marrakech is evidently a ar cry rom these basic, essentially militarist beginnings with at least

    one important exception. At the heart o each stage stood or still stands a Friday mosque (jami), also known as the

    cathedral mosque. In other words, the centripetal organization o the traditional Moroccan medina, whereby botheconomic activities and domestic residences were, broadly speaking, arranged in ascending order o religious and mon-

    etary value respectively, rom periphery to center, likely has been ollowed rom the start.5 Certainly, with regard to the

    orthodox doctrines o Islam current at any one period, as one headed inside a medina o whatever stage, so one headed

    towards a moral center, i not the moral (and also economic) center.

    Tis sense o journeying towards something o exalted value allows

    me to venture the ollowing: It might prove productive or compara-

    tive scholarship6 to revive inormally the notion o the traditional Mo-

    roccan medina as a labyrinth (as stated above, we cannot be certain

    o the earlier stages streetscapes), provided we do not simultaneously

    revive the pejorative connotations o disorder, irrationality, and civic

    incompetence which the notion requently had in Orientalist litera-

    ture.7 Guillermo del oro, the director o the 2006 lm Pans Labyrinth,

    expresses well much o the meaning I intend here by the word: [A] labyrinth is essentially a place o transit, an ethical

    moral transit to one inevitable centre.8 Missing only rom this denition is the act that once at this center, transit com-

    4. For a clear exposition o this period in Moroccan history, see Michael Brett, Te Islamisation o Morocco: From the Arabs

    to the Almoravids,Morocco: Journal o the Society or Moroccan Studies, No. 2 (1992), pp. 60-1.5. For urther discussion o the traditional medinas centripetal structure, what Andr Raymond calls radio-concentricity, seeAndr Raymond, Urban Lie and Middle Eastern Cities: Te raditional Arab City, in Yousse M. Choueiri, ed.,A Companionto the History o the Middle East(Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2005), pp. 214-17.6. As outlined, or example, in Lindsay Jones, e Hermeneutics of Sacred Architecture: Experience, Interpretation, ComparisonVol. 2: A Morphology of Ritual-Architectural Priorities (Cambridge: Harvard CSWR, 2000).7. Te notion also holds true or a number o non-Moroccan, traditional medinas. See, or example, Roberto Berardi, TeSpatial Organization o unis Medina and other Arab-Muslim Cities in North Arica and the Near East, in Salma K. Jayyuset al., eds., Te City in the Islamic World, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2008), pp. 1, 282, and 292-3.8. Cited in Mark Kermode, Girl Interrupted, Sight & Sound12 (December 2006), For a dierent usage o the term, see the authors Space and Muslim Urban Lie: At the Limits o the Labyrinth

    Figure 2: Fez, Ras Aluyun neighborhood

    Figure 3: Fez, Oued Chora neighborhood

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    mences anew: a return exit or a departure or a new center, one im-

    material and spiritual, apparent solely rom where the traveller now

    stands. []he labyrinth, writes the historian o religion Philippe

    Borgeaud, is both the path which leads toward a center, toward a new

    mode o existence, and the enchanted artice which prevents any exit

    i one has not taken care to leave path marks ... When he comes to

    the end o his quest the pilgrim sees the desired center transormed

    into a conusion which conceals rom him the new center toward

    which he must now direct himsel, retracing his steps. Te labyrinth always has two centers: where one is and where one

    desires to be. ... o emerge rom the labyrinth is equivalent to entering a new labyrinth. Te labyrinth itsel is the place

    o its own passage.9

    Te architecture o much o the traditional Moroccan medinas streetscape enhances this illusion o perpetual transitBetter illustrated than described, this phenomenon is shown below in photographs o the medinas o Fez and Marrakech

    Essentially, the impression is that as you walk through the medina, primarily via the secondary and tertiary routes that

    weave in and out o the residential quarters, your gaze is drawn ahead to the sky-lit breaks in the walls and ceilings enclos-

    ing your passage. But as you reach any one o these openings, its quality as a one-time ocal point o your path disappears

    and another near-distant opening draws your gaze again. As in an ever-receding desert, your arrival seems deerred.

    o Fe(London: Routledge, 2007).9. Philippe Borgeaud, Te Open Entrance to the Closed Palace o the King: Te Greek Labyrinth in Context, History oReligions, Vol. 14, No. 1 (1974), p. 23.

    Figure 4: Fez, Bab Jedid

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    ourism and Preservation in Colonial North Arica

    Brian McLaren

    Brian L. McLaren is an

    Associate Proessor in the

    Department o Architec-

    ture at the University o

    Washington, where he

    teaches architectural his-

    tory, theory, and design.

    he tourist development o North Arica during the period o colonization is one othe most interesting and least examined inuences on the architecture and urbanismo the region. Seeking to create a well-organized and ecient tourist system, French

    and Italian colonial authorities made a considerable investment in the preservation o

    the Islamic architectural heritage a building tradition that was the most important

    attraction or oreign tourists. In visiting the region today, many signicant historical

    sites as well as much o the tourist inrastructure rom the colonial period reects the

    contemporary European attitudes towards Islamic architecture and urbanism. Accord-

    ing to this view, the Islamic heritage o North Arica was seen as inerior to and deriva-

    tive o Western building traditions.

    European colonization was, however, not the

    rst external inuence on the architecture and

    urbanism o North Arica, which had or many

    centuries been a place o international trade

    and exchange. Islamic North Arica was un-

    der the control o the Ottoman Empire, whose

    presence in the region dates back to 1519.

    Te nature and extent o oreign interventionchanged decisively with the French invasion o

    Algeria in 1830, which was ollowed by Frances

    colonization o unisia in 1881 and Morocco

    in 1910. Aer the Italian invasion o Libya in

    1911, the region reached a new phase in which

    all o its territories were treated as being under

    European economic organization and politi-

    cal values. In part due to the importance o an

    emerging tourist system to the local economies o these colonies, the preservation o

    local culture began to be an important consideration in the regions architecture and

    urban planning.

    In the French colonies o Algeria, unisia, and Morocco, the private steamship com-

    pany, the Compagnie Gnrale Transatlantique (CGI), created a coordinated network

    o transportation services as early as 1918. Tis modern tourist system grew rapidly

    through the creation o a network o accommodations linked by scheduled bus and

    Figure 1: Map o Tourist system in Algeria, Tu-

    nisia, and Morocco, rom North African Motor

    Tours of the Compagnie Gnrale Transatlan-

    tique (London: Hill, Siken & Co., 1928).

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    auto transportation. By 1928 this system included 43 hotels and 19 automobile

    itineraries that covered some 25,000 kilometers. Te result was a continuous net-

    work o travel under the direction o the CGI that connected Bordeaux and Mar-

    seilles with major centers like Marrakech, Casablanca, angier, Algiers, and unis

    as well as more remote locations like the oases o imimoun and Ghardaia in the

    Algerian Sahara. Te publicity material that advertised this system speaks o a

    unique chain o modern hotels that allowed or travel into the interior o Algeria

    unisia, and Morocco.

    A similar though later development took place in the Italian colony o Libya, whose

    earliest tourist improvements began under the direction o Governor Giuseppe

    Volpi (1921-25). Tis progress culminated during the Governorship o Italo Bal-

    bo (1934-40) with the oundation o the Ente turistico ed alberghiero della Libia(EAL) in May o 1935. As a state-sponsored corporation, this group provided the

    services o a travel agency, acted as tour operator, managed a network o hotels, and

    supervised a group o entertainment acili-

    ties that included a theater and casino. By the end o the 1930s, the tourist system

    o the EAL was comprised o a network o 18 hotels located throughout Libya,

    as well as numerous aliated entertainment and tourist acilities in ripoli and

    Benghazi and several travel oces in Italy and Libya. Te combination o activi-

    ties and resources not only allowed the EAL to provide an inclusive package o

    services or a tourist audience, but also enabled it to provide a tourist experience

    that extended the comorts o European

    travel to the colonial context.

    Despite the importance o tourism in

    North Arica being connected to an e-

    cient and modern system o travel and

    accommodation, the tourist experience

    o the native culture was the prime mo-tivation or travel. It was largely in support o this experience that the colonia

    authorities in the French and Italian colonies put considerable eort into a sys-

    tematic study o the local culture. Not only were numerous books published

    on this material, but additionally many indigenous buildings were preserved

    Te results o such preservation programs include the Dar Adiyel Palace in Fez

    Morocco and the Qaramanli Mosque in ripoli, Libya both o which were sig-

    nicant historical buildings that became an important part o the tourist itiner

    Figure 2: Map o road system in Libya

    rom Tripoli: Piccola guida pratica e pianta

    della citt (Tripoli: Unione Coloniale Itali-

    ana Pubblicit & Inormazioni, 1938).

    Figure 3. Interior courtyard o Dar Adi

    yel Palace (17th century), Fez, Morocco

    [DedaloVol. 9, No. 12 (May 1929), p. 743].

    Figure 4: Interior o the Mosque o

    Ahmad Pasha Qaramanli (1736), Trip-

    oli, Libya. [Dedalo Vol. 7, No. 8 (January

    1927), p. 501].

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    ary. Even though these projects were directed by the most respected

    scholars in the eld, their preservation emphasized the impact o Eu-

    ropean building sources and cra traditions on the Islamic heritage

    an emphasis that was a subtle validation o the French and Italian

    colonial mission in the region.

    What is similarly interesting about the tourist system in North Arica

    during the colonial period is that its architecture and urbanism quite

    oen ollowed a preservationist approach in an eort to reerence the

    existing environment and indigenous building traditions. Projects

    such as the Hotel de la Mamounia in Marrakech, Morocco and the

    Hotel Ain el-Fras in Ghadames, Libya, exhibit a contemporary archi-

    tectural language that is deeply indebted to the Islamic heritage. In thiscase, however, this approach created a tourist environment that obscured the distinction between the historic architec-

    ture and the contemporary colonial presence. Te blurring o boundaries between the existing building traditions and

    the European colonial impact conuses any real sense o the local

    cultural identity in its own time. In addition, these tourist projects

    and the related enhancements o the urban and physical landscape

    gave an ambivalent status to the historic traditions o these newly

    independent nations during the postcolonial period and continue

    to shape the tourist understanding o the local culture today. As a

    result o the French and Italian preservation eorts which were

    conducted or the purposes o providing an authentic tourist expe-

    rience the Islamic cultural heritage o North Arica continues to

    be read through the lens o European colonial domination.

    Figure 5 View o Hotel de la Mamounia, Marrakech,

    Morocco (1923, Henri Prost and A. Marchisio). [Henri

    Descamps, LArchitecture moderne au Maroc, II Con-

    structions particulires (Paris: Librairie de la Construc-

    tion Moderne, 1931), Plate 15B].

    Figure 6: Postcard view o courtyard, Hotel Ain el-Fras,

    Ghadames, Libya (1935, Florestano Di Fausto and Ste-

    ano Gatti Casazza). [Authors collection].

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    Cairos Plurality o Architectural rends and the Continuous Search or Identity

    Ashraf M. Salama

    Egyptian politics, knowledge, and culture are rooted in the modern physical, socio-cultural, and socio-economic realities o Cairo. History reecting the intersection oplace, society, culture, and technology adds another dimension to Cairos architecture

    and urbanism. As a result, Cairo today is a complex and diverse city o over 18 million

    inhabitants with a range o well-established traditions and an array o oen competing

    symbols o religious, political, institutional, and economic powers.

    Te Egyptian economy has unquestionably inuenced the process o urbanization in

    Cairo. Te Open Door Policy (1974-1981) placed emphasis on encouraging the private

    sector, at both regional and international levels, to develop and implement new invest-

    ment plans. Laws pertaining to taxes and trade were tailored to acilitate oreign investment

    and international trade. During the 1980s, a period o economic reorm, the governments

    policy was to develop plans geared towards both economic and social development and

    to encourage international investment in several development realms. Te privatization

    era, which started in 1991, emphasized eective interaction with market dynamics, the

    aim being to transorm government projects into private ventures and to minimize and

    limit the role o the public sector and

    its involvement in strategic projects

    crucial to the national economy. Tistrend, which maniested itsel in in-

    tensive industrial development and

    a withdrawal o investment rom the

    agricultural sector, has had a marked

    eect on the urbanization process.

    Te repercussions o these policy phases on Egyptian urbanism are evident, especially

    when one looks at private sector investment in mass housing and industrial develop-

    ment around greater Cairo. A redistribution o powers has been conceived in which the

    government role is supposed to be minimal in the areas o production and develop-

    ment and maximal in environmental protection. Te governments role was to provide

    security, saety, and public services; to direct the activities o the private sector or the

    benet and welare o the general public; and to create employment opportunities. Te

    ailure o the government to ull this role resulted in a private sector monopoly in the

    delivery o these services, which became subject to market speculation. Te aggressive

    participation o the private sector in housing and service delivery led to ination and

    Figure 1: The Supreme Court o Egypt, designed by Ah-

    mad Mito. An explicit example o historical revivalism.

    Dr. Ashraf M. Salama holds

    BSc, MSc, and PhD degrees in

    Architecture. He is Professoro Architecture and currently

    holds a Reader in Architecture

    Position at Queens University

    Belast, and has held academic

    positions in Saudi Arabia and

    Qatar. He was the Director of

    Consulting at Adams Group

    Architects in Charlotte, North

    Carolina (2001-04).

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    an overheated real estate market. Clearly, the private sector targets

    strategic locations inside the urban perimeter o Cairo or develop-

    ing large-scale luxury commercial and oce buildings. It also aims

    at housing projects in the new cities around Cairo, at the afuent

    population and the upper middle class.

    Within the economic context o Cairo, several architectural and

    design positions have emerged to deal with these issues. However,

    many o the projects that were created le the city to suer in ug-

    liness, which le the public starving or visually appealing envi-

    ronments. Although ew attempts were made to create built envi-

    ronments that addressed the practical realities o the time, there was a search or a contemporary Cairene identity. A

    diversity o architectural theories has emerged, resulting in a ertile soil that encourages new attempts at all levels, romthe construction o individual houses to large-scale public projects. One such theory is Postmodernism.

    Postmodernism in Cairo is within the ramework o internationa

    postmodernism. Yet the local movement has ailed to oer an alter-

    native vision. It has not provided a remedy or problems resulting

    rom thoughtless appropriations o Western and modern architectura

    trends. And it has not gone ar enough in acknowledging the needs

    and aspirations o Cairene society. Postmodernism has not addressed

    the aults implicit in modernist architectural practices, but rather, has

    tacitly accepted them. It is merely an adjustment rom ollowing the in-

    ternational modernism to ollowing the international postmodernism.

    One major position that exemplies contemporary Cairene archi-

    tecture and urbanism is historical revivalism. Tis has materialized

    with clear reerences to the mix o Egyptian heritages. While many

    insisted that simulating history in contemporary buildings would

    oster a sense o belonging and strong emotional ties between soci-ety and the built environment, the license to blindly select, borrow,

    and copy rom the past has become acceptable. Tere are several

    examples o historical revivalism using the architectural ideology

    o a certain period. For example, the Supreme Court o Egypt, de-

    signed by Ahmed Mito, employs eatures o Pharonic architecture but with dierent proportions. In the Oriental Weav-

    ers headquarters, Farouk El Gohary incorporates arches and an inner courtyard and openings covered with stucco

    screens in an attempt to produce a new image o Cairene architecture. Some other architects have gone to extremes

    Figure 2: Original Weavers Company Headquarters by Farouk

    Al Gohary. An implicit example o historical revivalism.

    Figure 3: Integrated Care Society by Magd Masarra.

    An example o surace treatment architecture that

    makes little reerence to anything but the creative

    impulses o the architect.

    Figure 4: Khan Al Aziza. An example o straight copying

    rom the past.

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    and allowed themselves essentially to copy and paste rom the past.

    Te Khan Al Azizia project eatures such supercial copying o ancient

    designs that are completely at odds with both unction and context.

    Critical Regionalism is another position that attempts to read the history

    o Cairo and extract its essence while adapting it to suit the spirit o the

    times. It is a way to show cultural, economic, and political independence.

    In the Nile Art Gallery, Halim Ibrahim considers pre-modern heritage

    in a building that serves a modern unction. His concern was to connect

    the current art movement in Egypt with the Islamic and Arabic cultural

    heritage. Te project is a thoughtul eort aimed at the development o a contemporary Cairene cultural identity. Gamal

    Bakrys work is based on proound interpretations o history and culture. In his design or the commercial and tourist

    center near the Pyramids, he reected on the cultural rich-ness o Egypt, with a yellowish acade that reerences the

    nearby desert. Hierarchical masses are used to simulate the

    idea o a pyramid. Openings are designed with motis that

    reect Egyptian culture and a conscious attempt is made to

    link the building with the pyramid platorm, using it as a

    panoramic view.

    Movements toward a more culturally and environmentally

    responsive architecture are now underway. Public participa-

    tion, adaptive reuse, and urban intervention in historic Cairo are relatively new approaches to architectural practice. A

    Ahar Park illustrates the practice o culturally responsive architecture. It was envisioned by H.H. the Agha Khan in the

    1980s as part o a larger program or the development and upgrading o theAl Darb Al Ahmararea o Old Cairo. Under the

    direction and management o the Agha Khan rust or Culture, Sites International was selected as a local consultancy to

    develop the nal designs o the park together with other consultants. Tis project is another thoughtul attempt to improve

    the quality o the built environment and retrieve some o what Cairo has lost over the past 30 years.

    Contemporary Cairo is a collection o planning and architectural posi-tions that search or an identity. Few cases correspond to the history and

    economy o Cairo while many dey Cairene culture. Although there are

    honest attempts to tame the urban development process, and Egyptian

    architects manage individual buildings well enough, Cairos overall built

    environment is increasingly mismanaged. Nevertheless, there is hope

    ound in a ew designs that Cairo can produce a solid architectural trend

    and planning direction.

    Figure 5: Nile Art Gallery. An example o Critica

    Regionalism a conscious attempt at reinterpret

    ing the heritage o Cairo.

    Figure 6: Commercial and Tourist Centre by Gamal Bakry. An ex-

    ample o Critical Regionalism a conscious attempt at reinter-preting the heritage o Cairo.

    Figure 7: A view o Al Azhar Park: An example o cul

    turally and environmentally responsive architecture.

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    Egypt: Modernity and Identity

    Nasser Rabbat

    Nasser Rabbat, B. Arch(Damascus), M. Arch(UCLA), PhD (MI), is

    the Aga Khan Professor ofIslamic Architecture at the

    Massachusetts Institute oTechnology. He is the au-thor o several books, includ-

    ing Te Citadel o Cairo:A New Interpretation oRoyal Mamluk Architecture(Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1995),Taqaat al Bina wa Binaal-Taqaa [Te Culture

    o Building and BuildingCulture ] (Beirut: Ria

    Alrayyes Publisher, 2002).

    Steeped in history and tradition, but also open and cosmopolitan, modern Cairo de-veloped an expansive yet distinct sense o identity. Starting rom the middle o the 19thcentury, the city went through a series o political, cultural, and economic transmuta-

    tions that were reected in its First was the invasion o Napolon Bonaparte in 1798-

    1801, which jolted the country to rise rom its medieval stupor and ace up to this early

    colonial threat. Second was the reign o Muhammad Ali Pasha (1805-48), who sought

    to modernize the country in an ultimately unsuccessul eort to catch up with the West.

    Tis became sadly clear during the reign o his grandson, Khedive Ismail (1863-79),

    the most ambitious, most progress-minded, and most Europeanized member o the

    dynasty. He visited the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1867 and was ascinated by the

    bold plan o Baron Haussmann, which transormed the city o Paris. Upon his return, he

    Haussmannized Cairo and drastically altered its size, layout, and uture development.

    Ismails economic policies proved disastrous. Te British landed in 1882, aer he was

    replaced by his son, awc, in 1879 and subjugated Egypt to colonial rule. Tey also

    opened the country to their vast imperial network. Within 20 years, Cairo became a

    cosmopolitan city tied to the inter-

    national economic system and teem-

    ing with a multitude o migrant ad-venturers and persecuted minorities

    that sought her as a new home. Tis

    was the peak architectural moment

    o the city. Scores o buildings were

    built in hybrid styles that borrowed

    reely rom the varied repertoires o

    the past and blended them with vari-

    ous European styles, especially the Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Neo-Baroque styles. But

    the one distinguishing invention o the period, and the one adopted as the semi-ocial

    style o the country, was the Neo-Mamluk style.

    Te most majestic Neo-Mamluk example is the Mosque o al-Riai (1869-1911), which

    stands opposite the Mosque o Sultan Hasan (1356-61) as an attempt by the Khedival

    amily to measure up to the Mamluks. (Figure 1) Other notable examples are the Dar

    al-Kutub, built in 1904 by the Italian Alonso Manescalo (Figure 2), the Awqa Ministry,

    built between 1898 and 1929 by Mahmud Fahmi, and the Egyptian Engineers Society

    Figure 1: Mosque o Sultan Hasan

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    Headquarters, built in 1930 by Mustaa Fahmi. A counter-style, the

    Neo-Pharaonic, was limited to mostly Art-Deco commercial build-

    ings, except or the Mausoleum o Sad Zaghlul, the leader o the

    1919 revolution against the British, which was designed by MustaaFahmi in 1928 specically to express an Egyptian identity that united

    Muslims and Copts. (Figure 3)

    Another historicist, though less localized, and hence less nationalistic,

    style, the neo-Islamic, was adopted or many o the commercial build-

    ings in downtown, probably as a means to give the city a special character as a modern metropolis with an Oriental geneal-

    ogy. Tis is exemplied by many o the oeuvres o the Slovenian architect Antonio Lasciac, such as the Bank Misr building

    (Figure 4) and the Assicurazioni Generali rieste Apartment Building. Te style dominates the commercial and civic center

    o a new suburb, Heliopolis, which was built in the 1910s by the Belgian industrialist Baron Empain as an Oriental garden-city or a new, select, and mostly oreign proessional class.

    Te Revolution o 1952 that toppled the monarchy gave rise to the

    more outspoken categories o modernity, nationalism, and socialism as

    ramers o the image and the architecture o the recently independent

    republic. Te new ramework engendered some important modernist

    civic projects ranging rom entire new satellite cities, such as Nasr City

    planned by Sayyid Kuraim in the 1960s, to government oces, acto-ries, hospitals, schools, and pub-

    lic housing projects. Simultane-

    ously, and somewhat in opposi-

    tion to the modernist emphasis, a number o outstanding architects, such as Hassan

    Fathy and Ramses Wissa Wase, advanced vernacular architecture as the most au-

    thentic representation o the peoples architecture o Egypt. Teir buildings, such as

    New Gourna village (1948-1961) by the ormer and Harraniyya village (Figure 5) by

    the latter (1957-74), cast the vernacular through a mixture o objective social and

    environmental experiments and lyrical interpretations o traditions. Teir ollow-

    ers continued to use their ormal language but did not develop its socioeconomic

    content. Instead they brandished it as a kind o indigenous post-modern response to

    the blandness o modernist architecture and, in some cases, such as the work o Abd

    al-Wahid al-Wakil in Saudi Arabia, exported it as an expressive regional style.

    Te last three decades have witnessed the resurgence o the discourse on Islam as a cultural identity, which translated in

    architecture into a massive revivalist movement. Sincerely at times, but opportunistically at others, many architects en-

    Figure 2: Dar al-Kutub

    Figure 3: Mausoleum o Sad Zaghlul

    Figure 4: Bank Misr

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    gaged in the design o various historicist styles to satisy the growing

    demand or a contemporary Islamic architecture. Te examples range

    rom romantic mlanges, which reely re-interpret historical motis, to

    the oen arbitrary usage o orms detached rom their historical andgeographic contexts, to the rational, abstracted, and at times minimal-

    ist projects o architects trained in the modern tradition.

    However, the most signicant and alarming recent development is the

    citys ruralization, which gives the old metropolis the appearance o a

    conglomerate o contiguous villages, cut o rom civic authorities and

    living by their own economic rules and behavioral codes. (Figure 6) Te

    cosmopolitan quality o the architecture o modern Cairo has been slow-

    ly deteriorating under the pressure o a severe population explosion and

    heavy rural emigration accompanied by a mixture o ocial neglect and

    corruption, a greedy and speculative real estate market, and chaotic zon-

    ing and overbuilding practices.

    (Figure 7) Te other side o the

    coin is represented by the numer-

    ous New Cities growing around Cairo on the edge o the desert and catering to a new

    class o entrepreneurs and beneciaries o the unrestrained laissez aire policies initiat

    ed by the late President Anwar Sadat and continued by President Husni Mubarak. Teirarchitecture displays an eclectic collection o post-modern or revivalist motis distorted

    through a Disneyesque vision o contemporary suburban living in the West. (Figure

    8) Tus as the city loses its modern and slowly evolved architectural identity, its new

    suburbs acquire a con-

    sumerist, neo-liberal, and

    globalized new identity

    that has no local avor.

    (Figure 9)


    Figure 5: New Gourna village

    Figure 6

    Figure 7

    Figure 8

    Figure 9

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    Jerusalem Architecture: Old Is Bitter, New Is Ugly

    Annabel Jane Wharton

    Dr. Annabel Jane Whar-

    ton is the William B.

    Hamilton Proessor in the

    Department o Art, Art

    History, and Visual Stud-

    ies at Duke University.

    Her most recent book is

    Selling Jerusalem: Relics,

    Replicas, Temeparks

    (University of Chicago

    Press, 2006).

    Jerusalem is a golden bowl lled with scorpions. Tose scorpions are architecturalas well as human, modern as well as ancient. Such is the ate o a city considered holyby Jews, Christians, and Muslims and possessed episodically by the theocratic states o

    all three. At the core o Jerusalem is the Old City, dened by the imposing 16 th cen-

    tury walls built by Sulayman the Magnicent (Figure 1). From the 1860s, Jerusalem,

    like many cities in the Middle East as well as in the West, developed suburbs. East

    Jerusalem, with its largely Palestinian population, includes the northeast section o the

    expanded city as well as the Mount o Olives. It is divided rom the Palestinian com-

    munities o the West Bank by the Israeli deense barrier and rom West Jerusalem, with

    its largely Jewish population, by the north-south Road 1 (Figure2).


    Te Old Citys

    most prominent

    ancient buildings

    are burdened by

    old age and by the

    various, and alwaysexclusive, religious

    claims made upon them. Many sites excite vicious rivalries. Best known o these con-

    tested places is al-Haram al-Shari/the emple Mount. Herods grand successor o Solo-

    mons emple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. Te great podium on which the

    emple stood (the Wailing Wall or Kotel is the southern part o this platorms west-

    ern retaining wall) was le in ruins by the Romans and the Christians. Te sanctity o

    the site was put back to work only

    aer the seventh century Islamic

    conquest o the city with al-Aqsa

    Mosque and the great Dome o the

    Rock, which marks the tradition-

    al location whence Muhammad

    made his night journey to heaven

    (Figure3). Now, Jewish and Chris-

    tian extremists or very dier-

    ent reasons seek to clear the site

    Figure 1: General view rom the Mount o Olives

    Figure 2: View o Route 1 rom the south (road as bar-

    rier). Route 1 ollows the Seam, the pre-1967 divide

    between Jordan and Israel.

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    o its Muslim buildings or the rebuilding o the emple.

    Other sites o contention are less amiliar. Te occasional eruptions o

    violence between the traditional Christian sects (Greek Orthodox, Cop-tic, Roman Catholic, Armenian, etc.) in possession o various parts o the

    Holy Sepulchre are symptomatic o the continued rivalry o their spatia

    claims (Figure4). Te hostilities at the Holy Sepulchre always elicited dis-

    dainul comments rom Protestant Christian travelers, who in the 19th

    century sought and ound their own, alternate tomb o Jesus Gordons

    Garden omb. King Davids omb stages another example o spatial jeal-

    ousy. Zion (probably the Jebusite term or ortress) or the City o David was the locus o the kings burial (I Kings 2:10)

    it is authoritatively located by archaeologists on the southeast hill o Jerusalem. But in late antiquity, the southwest hil

    o the city was misidentied as Zion. On it, in the later ourth cen-tury, a large ve-aisled, two level basilica, known as the Mother o All

    Churches was constructed. Te church was rebuilt in much the same

    orm rst by the Crusaders and then, in the 14th century, by the Fran-

    ciscans. Tis last, Gothic structure incorporated many o the religious

    narratives o its predecessor as well as its surviving oundations. It was

    identied by pilgrims as the site o Jesus agellation, the washing o

    the Apostles eet, the Last Supper, Pentecost (when the Apostles re-

    ceived the Holy Spirit 50 days aer Jesus resurrection), and the deatho Mary. In the 16th century, the Franciscans were expelled rom the

    site aer the Jews identied it to the Ottoman rulers as Davids omb.

    At present, the surviving ragment o the great Gothic complex is a

    two-storied room, with the Cenacle the place o the Last Supper above, and the omb o David below (Figure 5)

    Te ormer is thoroughly secularized and the latter thoroughly sacralized. Men and women have separate entrances to

    the omb; men who wish to visit it must wear yarmulkes. Te Roman Catholics contest

    Israeli control o the site, just as they did its Ottoman possession.


    Te old buildings o Jerusalem may be violent, but they are solemn and handsome. Teir

    ancient walls and vaults were solidly constructed by local masons rom the pink-gold

    local limestone. Te structures were built with traditional methods and in time-tested

    orms. Tey age well. Even the buildings o the 19th and early 20th century like the old

    Jewish, Muslim, and Protestant neighborhoods ounded outside the walls o the Old City

    the commercial structures built by the Armenian Patriarchate on Jaa Road, or the Rock-

    Figure 3: Dome o the Rock

    Figure 5: Cenacle and Tomb o

    David, exterior

    Figure 4: Holy Sepulchre, plan o the church showing

    its sectarian divisions. From C.R. Ashbee, ed.,Jerusa-

    lem, 1920-1922 (1924).

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    eeller Museum designed in the 1930s acknowledge the local scale and orms even when they introduced modern

    European styles and technologies. During the British Mandate (1918-1947), regulations imposed green space around

    the Old City and restricted buildings height and construction materials. Buildings had to be aced in Jerusalem stone

    corrugated iron was banned.

    At least one o those regulations is maintained. New buildings are

    inevitably sheathed in a thin veneer o Jerusalem stone. But most

    o the old regulations are ignored. Green space is disappearing. Te

    parkland opposite Jaa Gate has been occupied by grotesque park-

    ing decks and architecturally oensive luxury accommodation or

    the very wealthy (Figure 6). Te condos there are largely abandoned

    by their rich, non-resident Jewish owners or most o the year, con-

    tributing to the death o the economy in the part o the city that should be most vital. Te Jerusalem Hilton (now theCrowne Plaza), which annulled the city code on building height in 1974, initiated the meaningless western skyline o Je-

    rusalem, punctuated ungrammatically by characterless monoliths (See Figs. 1 and 7). Unortunately, cheaply constructed

    pomposities, built without reerence to the scale o their neighborhood and with no conscience about their aect on dis-

    tant views o the city, characterize post-1967 building in the city. Who could possibly nd a particle o aesthetic pleasure

    in the twin tour group hotels, the Olive ree and the Novotel, looming over St. Georges

    Cathedral in East Jerusalem? Indeed, state construction (e.g., the Ministry o Justice), as

    well as speculative Israeli ventures in East Jerusalem seem intentionally ugly.

    Jerusalem has at least one good postmodern building: the Supreme Court, designed by

    Ram Carmi and Ada Carmi-Melamed, opened in 1992 (Figure 7). Te plan and scale

    o the building were inspired by the Alhambra and the Rockeeller Museum: at its core

    is an elegantly proportioned courtyard bisected by a narrow stream running almost its

    entire length. Te structure is less aboutgravitas than about intimacy. It provides the law

    a deeply human habitat, whether or not it deserves it.

    Jerusalem is a place to eel passionate about architecture about its beauty, about its

    aura, and about its abuse. For those who are moved by architecture, Jerusalem oers a remarkable roller-coaster ride.

    Figure 7: Supreme Court, court-



    Figure 6: View rom Jaa Gate to the west.

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    22/8422 e Middle East Institute Viewpoints: Architecture and Urbanism in the Middle East

    Global Capital, Urban Regeneration, and Heritage Conservation in the Levant

    Rami Daher

    Dr. Rami Daher is a prac-

    ticing architect and the

    head o his own rm, U-

    RATH. He is also an asso-

    ciate proessor o Architec-

    ture at German Jordanian

    University in Amman.

    Property is the new consumer goodpar excellence and real estate development isthe new religion in the Middle East. Cities across the region are competing or interna-tional investment, business, and tourism. Developments in Dubai are setting the prec-

    edents and models to ollow. Tis reality stands in stark contrast to the 1960s, when cities

    like Cairo and Beirut represented cutting-edge urbanism to the rest o the Arab world.

    Te circulation o global capital (such as surplus oil revenues) in search o high yielding

    investments, combined with excessive privatization, has transormed urban reality, inated

    property values, uelled speculation, and altered the nature o public lie in cities through-

    out the Arab world. It is estimated that between 2005 and 2020 the Arab Gul states likely

    will have invested about $3 trillion in the Middle East and North Arica.1 Te intense urban

    restructuring spurred by this investment renzy poses challenges or heritage conservation

    and urban regeneration in historic city cores in the region. Among these are a lack o inter-

    est, inadequate unding, and inappropriate approaches to urban regeneration due to lack o

    expertise and the need or more critical and sustainable practices.


    Several urban mega-projects in Bei-rut, Amman, and even Damascus have

    been orchestrated by partnerships be-

    tween multinational corporations and

    the state. Tese partnerships have cul-

    minated in the establishment o new

    regulating bodies SOLIDERE (So-

    cit Libanaise de Dveloppement et

    de Reconstruction) in Beirut andMA-

    MARED (National Resources Invest-

    ment and Development Corporation)

    in Amman).

    Te Beirut downtown reconstruction project ashioned by SOLIDERE was presented to

    1. Yasser Elsheshtawy, Te Great Divide: Struggling and Emerging Cities in the ArabWold, in Yasser Elsheshtawy, ed., e Evolving Arab City: Tradition, Modernity, and UrbanDevelopment(New York: Routledge, 2008), pp. 1-26.

    Figure 1: A stretch o billboard about the AbdaliUrban Regeneration Project as the only source o

    inormation between the community at large and

    this major neo-liberal urban restructuring project

    in the city. (Source: Rami Daher, 2007).

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    the public as the main post-war reconstruction eort. Urban critics

    and academics presented an interesting critique o the project. While

    arming its importance as a symbol o Lebanons emergence rom

    its 15-year civil war, they still considered the project as simply a realestate development where history and heritage are but themes incor-

    porated through Disneyed pastiche representations. It is true that

    the project included the preservation o older buildings and urban

    spaces rom the traditional and French Mandate periods, but it is im-

    portant to mention that the nal outcome resulted in a very exclusive

    urban setting where the whole notion o urban memory and property

    ownership was expunged.2 Tis reconstruction is creating a collaged

    urban morphology that is designed or consumption and linked with

    entertainment geared or rich Arab Gul tourists and the local elite.

    Te SOLIDEREmodel o urban restructuring was adopted in Amman

    as well. In act, the two cities share similar global investors. Tis neo-

    liberalization o the creation o public space is leading to the dilution o

    local dierences and the circulation o corporate urban realities and

    images. Te Abdali Project turns its back on Ammans original down-

    town, which is only about 1.5 kilometers away rom the Abdalisite, and

    is expected to lead to urban geographies o inequality and exclusion aswell as spatial and social displacement.

    Ammans Abdaliis promoted by MAWARED as the New Downtown

    or Amman. However, the project will in act intensiy the socioeco-

    nomic and spatial polarization not only between East and West Am-

    man, but also between this new elitist urban island and the rest o

    the city.3 Te AbdaliProject has led to the displacement o the nearby

    existing Abdali transportation terminal, together with its drivers, inormal vendors, and occupants, to the outskirts o

    Ammans city center. Te project also will present erce competition to the existing downtown area, which is gradually

    disintegrating and is already suering rom a lack o economic vitality.

    Although Damascus has not yet undertaken a major urban agship project, several neoliberal real estate developments

    already have had a considerable eect on the authenticity and sustainability o the citys cultural heritage. Signicant

    2. Doris Summer, Neo-Liberaliing the City: Transitional Investment Networks and the Circulation of Urban Images in Beiruand Amman (Master Tesis in Urban Planning, American University o Beirut, 2005).3. Rami Daher, Amman: Disguised Genealogy and Recent Urban Restructuring and Neolibral Treats, in Elsheshtawy, ed.e Evolving Arab City: Tradition, Modernity, and Urban Development, pp. 37-68.


    Figure 3: A view the SOLIDERE Project in Down-

    town Beirut showing the cas and restaurants with

    tourists and clientele who could aord such expen-

    sive places. Most o the shops and the upper oors

    are vacant or are occupied by ex-patriots rom the

    Gul states or very auent local Lebanese Business-

    es. (Source: Rami Daher, 2008).

    Figure 2: A view o the Husseini Mosque in downtown

    Amman rom the recently demolished Arab League

    Coee House (Qahwa Jamia Arabiah). The Abdal

    Project presents ferce competition to the historic

    downtown area. (Source: Rami Daher, 2001).

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    transormations include the development intended or the historic Hijaz Railroad Station and the newly erected Four

    Seasons Hotel. Other projects are anticipated along the Barada River.


    Jordan, Lebanon, and other countries in the region have received in-

    ternational unding rom the World Bank and other donor agencies

    to boost their national tourism strategies and development in the

    orm o tourism/urban regeneration in secondary cities and smaller

    towns. Such international aid has targeted cities such as ripoli, yre

    Baalbeck, Sidon, and Byblos in Lebanon, and Kerak, Salt, Jerash, Am-

    man, and Madaba in Jordan.

    Comparative research and eldwork analysis has concluded that the

    various components and the nature o the end product o such proj

    ects are very similar across the two countries. aking Salt, Jordan as

    an example, it is obvious that the project mainly concentrated on the

    physical aspects o urban regeneration (e.g., tourist trails, pedestri-

    anization o public plazas, panoramic lookouts, streetscape, and sig-

    nage). Te intervention in the public urban space centered on stone

    pavement or plazas, streets, or steps, outdoor urniture, and signage. Essentially, this is a one-time limited intervention

    in the orm o architectural cosmetics aecting the historic urban tis-

    sue o the city without a serious attempt to address the establishment

    o heritage tools, systems, or sustainable institutional practices at the

    municipal level o these towns that insure the continuity o urban re-

    generation and community involvement in the long run.4

    Furthermore, these projects lead to the circulation o dierent orms

    o urban and heritage projects and o a prototypical tourist experience

    within the region. Gradually, not only are local dierences betweenthese cities disintegrating, but the urban experience also is being con-

    ned to consuming the same manuactured version o heritage and to

    gazing at the same urban urniture detail, lamp xture, or oor pat-


    4. Rami Daher, ourism: Heritage and Urban ransormations in Jordan and Lebanon: Emerging Actors and Global-Local Juxtapositions, in Rami Daher, ed., Tourism in the Middle East: Continuity, Change and Transformation (EnglandChannel View Publications, 2007), pp. 263-307.

    Figure 4: The old core o the historic city o Salt, Jor-

    dan which underwent several donor agencies (JICA

    and The World Bank) urban regeneration/tourism

    developments. Similar design guidelines and project

    objectives (that center primarily on urban cosmetics)

    are shared by several other Jordanian and Lebanese

    towns o which Salt is but one leading to the disinte-

    gration o local dierences within the region. (Photo-

    graph taken by Rami Daher, 2000)

    Figure 5: Gold Market in Historic Tripoli in LebanonThis old Suq represents one example o several e-

    orts or urban regeneration in the city by interna-

    tional donors like the World Bank. Most o such e-

    orts center on provision o pavement, light posts

    and canopies: urban cosmetics. Similar projects are

    taking place in other Lebanese and Jordanian towns

    with circulating images and heritage details. (Pho

    tograph taken by Rami Daher, 2002).

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    One o the problems acing heritage conservation in the region is the absence

    o a critical denition o its cultural heritage which would incorporate mar-ginalized realities such as the regions heritage o Modernity. Te middle o the

    20th century in the region centered on a critical and inormed public opinion

    in dierent walks o lie and actually produced an architecture that was dy-

    namic, avant-garde, and progressive. An interesting local version o Modern

    architecture emerged between the 1940s and the 1970s, signiying a society tha

    was open to dierent positive cultural changes and progressive transormation

    Beirut was the heart o the regions Modernity. Whether it was the Hotel St

    Georges, the Shams Building, the Pan American Building, or the various cin-

    emas and cas on Hamra Street, the buildings o that era signied an enlight-

    ened architectural practice that is local and global, yet critical and exceptional

    Examples rom Damascus and Amman included the National Museum in Da-

    mascus, several buildings belonging to the University o Damascus, and nally

    the Insurance Building, the Intercontinental Hotel, and the Youth Sport City in


    Unortunately, the regions growing consumer-based and uncritical public lacks

    a genuine appreciation o its heritage o Modernitydue in certain cases to beingunconscious o its value and signicance, and in other cases, to the dominance

    o the dollar on peoples value systems. Tis is leading to the destruction and disguring o the valuable heritage that

    once represented a true testimonial to the regions temporal depth and critical public sphere.


    In the midst o intense neoliberal urban restructuring, there is a need or research that goes beyond the classical analysis

    o the traditional Arab city, and that ocuses instead on current urban transormations, the ow o global capital, and

    its eect on the realities o cities, urban structures, and polity, the metropolitiation processes rom below addressingissues o historic cities core conservation and regeneration, sustainable and environmentally conscious urban growth

    the migration and circulation o humans and capital, the ormation o slums, and the details o social lie vis vis lines

    o inclusion and exclusion.

    Figure 6: A view o Hotel St. George in

    Beirut representing one o the citys sig-

    nifcant examples o heritage o Moderni-

    ty and also a symbol o resistance against

    the expansion o the SOLIDERE Project

    beyond the Central Business District.

    Owners o the Hotel reuse to sell out toSOLIDERE. (Source: Rami Daher, 2008).

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    Te Contemporary Built Environment in the Arab Middle East

    Mohammad al-Asad

    Dr. Mohammad al-Asad is aJordanian architect and archi-tectural historian. He is cur-

    rently the ounder and direc-tor o the Center or the Studyof the Built Environment. earned his bachelorsand masters degrees in archi-tecture rom the University oIllinois and his PhD in archi-tectural history rom Harvard


    With the advent o the 1990s, a new phase aecting the development o the builtenvironment in the Arab Middle East commenced, when urban rather than purelyarchitectural concerns gradually began to attract increasing attention rom decision-

    makers and members o the architectural community, and the emphasis o the 1970s

    and 1980s on developing architectural vocabularies that express local and historical

    specicities gave way to a preerence or internationally-prevalent models, particularly

    relating to high-tech and deconstructivist architecture. Since then, two interconnected

    narratives have dened the evolution o the built environment in the region, with one

    being prevalent in the areas middle and low-income countries o, and the other in the

    afuent, oil-rich countries o the Gul Cooperation Council (GCC).

    An important project signaling the initiation o the rst narrative is the redevelopment

    o the Beirut Central District (CBD), which began as Lebanon emerged rom its gruel-

    ing 15-year civil war (1975-1990). Te project illustrated a newly emerging emphasis

    on urbanism rather than on architecture. In this instance, the Lebanese government

    granted authority to a public share-holding company to assume ownership o the CBD

    (by providing shares in the company to preexisting property owners) and to develop

    it into a multi-use high-end urban district. Although controversial in socioeconomic

    terms, the project has been carried out according to very high architectural and urban

    standards and has managed to transorm the area into an urban showpiece, not only

    or Beirut, but also or the region as a whole. Whereas the project included buildings

    by world-amous architects, its individual works o architecture clearly are subsumed

    in an overall urban vision that emphasizes pedestrian connectivity, mixed-use districts,

    continuities in building scale, conservation o an architectural heritage (a good part o

    which dates back to the 1920s), and a generous provision o public spaces. Te Solidere

    model initiated a new approach that has become popular in the region and that has con-

    sisted o reconguring complete urban districts through large investment companiesworking in coordination, and oen partnership, with governmental authorities.

    While the Beirut CBD project included a conservation component, it remained pri-

    marily an urban development project. In contrast, a number o projects in the low and

    middle-income countries o the region emerged during the 1990s that dealt primarily,

    i not exclusively, with issues o heritage conservation and addressed the urban scale

    rather than merely that o individual monuments. Considering the historical wealth o

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    numerous urban centers in the region, such projects were overdue. Important examples o them have taken place in

    Sanaa, Aleppo, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Hebron.

    Interestingly, even Cairo, which has been suering rom extensive urban stress, particularly since the 1970s, has quietlyundergone a gradual, though limited, process o rehabilitation. A subway system was introduced as early as the second

    hal o the 1980s. Unleaded gasoline has replaced the leaded variety, thus helping soen the problems o air pollution

    Te citys endless decline seems to have been arrested. In act, minor but clearly evident improvements have taken place

    regarding issues such as overall cleanliness, the visual pollution caused by commercial signs, and trac congestion.

    Even in middle-income cities such as Amman, there has been a new emphasis on projects that address the urban scale.

    An ambitious master plan has been put in place to control and direct the citys rapid growth and to address the problem

    o urban sprawl, incorporating principles such as multi-use zoning and increased densication. In addition, a light-rai

    line has been conceived to connect Amman to the nearby industrial city o Zarqa and to eventually serve various partso Amman itsel. Similar plans are taking place elsewhere, as in Damascus, where there is talk o developing a new mas-

    ter plan or the city.

    ourism also emerged as a main generator o projects on the urban scale, whether in creating new towns or aected

    parts o existing ones. Initially, these were carried out mainly in Egypt, primarily in the Sinai Peninsula and along the

    shores o the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Others soon ollowed, as with the Jordanian port o Aqaba along the Red


    Although there has been an increasing emphasis on issues o urbanism in the past 15 years or so, interesting devel-

    opments related to architecture also have been taking place. A number o unabashedly avant-garde architects have

    emerged in the region, such as the Lebanese Bernard Khoury and the Jordanian Sahel Al Hiyari. Tese architects, who

    have assumed a level o international recognition, have no place or historic or regional nostalgia in their work, but

    emphasize creating novel modernist solutions. Teir sources o inspiration interestingly enough are ound in local con-

    ventional low-tech industrial practices.

    Te city o Dubai has come to best exempliy the second narrative. A series o themed districts, each reerred to as acity, have been built there; they include Media City, Internet City, Motor City, Studio City, and even Culture City.

    Each o these high-end developments eatures a combination o housing units, recreational acilities (e.g., gol courses

    hotels, retail and oce space), and specialized acilities relating to the theme o the district. Other urban-scale projects

    include developing the now world-amous massive man-made islands in the shape o palm trees and a map o the earth

    all o which have been part o an eort aimed at branding Dubai on the global level.

    A number o Dubais dazzling plans were initiated beore the spike in oil prices that began around 2003 and took hold

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    about 2005. Since then, colossal projects inspired by the Dubai model have been conceived throughout the region.

    Complete new cities are being planned or are already under construction, including the City o Silk in Kuwait, Saadiya

    Island in Abu Dhabi, and the King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia on the coast o the Red Sea. In these proj-

    ects, the issue o identity, so prominent in the regions rst construction boom o the 1970s and 1980s, is all but absent

    or they are intended to express a global sense o belonging rather than a specic regional identity.

    Economic developments in the countries o the Gul generally have a strong impact on their less afuent neighbors. As

    the region is becoming more riendly to oreign investments, and as investors rom the region have preerred to keep a

    larger portion o their investments in the region close to home ollowing the events o September 11, 2001, they are car-

    rying out numerous large-scale projects in neighboring countries, primarily consisting o high-end residential, oce

    retail, and tourism developments. Considering the signicant nancial resources being poured into these projects, there

    is serious concern that they will divert the considerable, and oen productive, energies that so ar have been placed into

    initiatives that have included historic conservation and overall urban upgrading into high-end luxury projects, many owhich very well may end up as white elephants.

    Over the past decade and a hal, there has been a proound change o emphasis rom the micro-scale o architecture

    to the macro urban scale, and rom the search or localized architectural identities to an attempt to t within overall

    global developments. Another issue that needs to be seriously addressed is that o sustainability in the built environ-

    ment. Tis is particularly crucial in the Gul zone, which is dominated by the automobile, depends on the mechanica

    air-conditioning o massive interior spaces, and has expansive, lush landscapes irrigated by water primarily obtained

    through energy-intensive desalinization plants.

    I any level o sustainability in the built environment is to be achieved in the Gul, there will be a need to seriously re-

    congure its cities. Amongst other things, planners and policy makers will have to drastically rethink movement in the

    city to more eectively incorporate public transportation, pedestrianization, and an increased dependence on telecom-

    muting. Dubai, or one seems to have begun to realize this. It is currently developing an extensive light-rail system to

    help ease its notorious trac congestion problems. Perhaps this marks the beginning o a broader acknowledgement

    that the prevalent urban models that have been developed in the cities o the Gul over the past ew decades are not

    sustainable, and thus constitutes the rst step in that part o the world in a long journey towards developing new models

    or urban living.

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    Conservatism versus Modernism: Hesitant Urban Identity in Saudi Arabia

    Mashary A. Al-Naim

    Dr. Mashary A. Al-Naim,

    Associate Professor, King

    Faisal University, Vice Rector,Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd


    What do people think about their urban identity and what needs do they identiythemselves with? What role do traditions play in a society, and why do people createnew traditions? Every society has a continuous ow o traditions, changing and taking

    on dierent orms, which are essential or societal survival. As Rapoport states, or any

    group to survive there must be continuity at some level.1 raditions, even changing

    traditions, oer a certain continuity within a group.

    Eorts in Saudi Arabia to maintain a continuity o tradition are strongly linked to the

    impact o religion within Saudi culture.2 Tese traditions can be linked with what Rapa-

    port calls the cultural core. He dierentiates the cultural core rom peripheral values,

    which are modied according to changes in lie circumstances. Unlike these changing

    peripheral values, Rapaport argues

    that the cultural core continues as

    a determining actor in the cre-

    ation o individual identity and as a

    mechanism by which members o a

    group communicate their collective


    In this sense, a change in liestyle

    may inuence and modiy the val-

    ues which help people to cope with a new way o living, but those values which enable

    people to generate meaning in their built environment will continue in their unction.

    Te continuity o identity o any society stems rom these core values.

    Te strength o these core values depends on the degree o resistance shown by any

    society towards change, and the ability o its members to preserve their cultural core.

    Tis is not to say that the existence o these values ensures ull continuity o identity,

    but rather that they play an essential role in using a new identity. As Bloom states, in

    a change o lie circumstances, individuals may make new and appropriate identica-

    1. A. Rapoport, Culture and Built Form-A Reconsideration, in D.G. Saile, ed.,Architecturein Cultural Change, Essays in Build Form and Culture Research (Lawrence, KS: University oKansas Press, 1986), pp. 157-175.2. S. Hamdan, Social Change in the Saudi Family, Unpublished Ph.D. Tesis, Iowa StateUniversity, Ames, Iowa (1990), p. 149.3. Rapoport, Culture and Built Form-A Reconsideration, pp. 157-175.

    Figure 1: Al-Khala Village Asir

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    tions. Individuals may also seek to protect and enhance identication already made. 4

    Rapoport presents two denitions or the concept o identity. Te rst stresses the

    importance o continuity o identity, the unchanging nature o something under

    varying aspects or conditions. Te second denition is concerned with the condi-

    tion o being one thing and not another.5 Te implicit and explicit resistance to

    introduced objects, images, liestyles, etc., plays an important role in the continu-

    ity o certain meanings over an extended period o time. Habrakens concept o

    implicit and explicit constraints as two mechanisms that enable us to evaluate the

    orm assists us here. He argues that during the production o a new orm, there is

    an internal mechanism that orces the orm to take certain shapes. Tese shapes are

    compatible with peoples past experience, belie system, norms, and liestyles.6

    Te tension between conservatism and modernism in urban Saudi Arabia resulted

    in a certain social resistance, and it has become necessary to discuss how this social

    resistance has been translated into orms. Tis has encouraged many researchers

    and architects to search or an identity in the contemporary Saudi built environment. Te ollowing discussion aims to

    present a general review o this search over the past two decades, ocusing on two main questions. First, has the need or

    identity in Saudi Arabia resulted in society responding, Here we are, despite the drastic changes and oreign inuences

    this is our identity? Or has this need or identity emerged as a result o a superior Western culture that has directly

    inuenced the social and physical orders in Saudi Arabia? It is important to clariy here that the ollowing discussion

    is not intended to answer these two questions; rather, it will use them broadly as a context or a discussion o the buil


    Rapid changes in the 1970s resulted in a sense o not belonging in the urban environment in Saudi Arabia, since

    people suddenly ound themselves in a completely dierent physical environment. Indicating the loss o traditional

    identity in the Saudi built environment, Ben Saleh7 (1980) writes:

    Recent buildings have lost their traditional identities and have become hybrids o exotic character in their architectura

    orm, main concepts, arrangement o spaces, organization o elements, and building techniques employed.8

    4. W. Bloom,Personal Identity, National Identity and International Relations (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press1990), p. 50.5. A. Rapoport, Identity and environment: A cross-cultural perspective, in J.S. Duncan, ed., Housing and Identity: Cross-Cultural Perspectives (London: Croom-Helm, 1981), pp. 6-35.6. N.J.Habraken,Te Appearance o the Form (Cambridge, MA: Awater Press, 1985), pp. 63-66.7. Saudi academic and ormer Dean o the College o Architecture and Planning at King Saud University.8. Cited in M. Al-Gabbani, Community Structure, Residential Satisfaction, and Preferences in a Rapidly Changing UrbanEnvironment: Te Case o Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Unpublished PhD, Michigan, University o Michigan (1984), p. 275.

    Figure 2: Al-Mamalka Tower Riyadh

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    Konash9 agrees, criticizing Western rms that practiced in Saudi

    Arabia or their lack o knowledge about the local culture while

    suggesting more collaboration between Saudi and oreign archi-

    tects.10 Aer studying the impact o Western urban concepts in

    the contemporary Saudi cities, Al-Hathloul11 suggests that Arab-

    Islamic traditions which ormulate the needs o Saudi amilies

    should be respected in any uture building regulations.12 Fadan13

    goes urther, attributing the loss o traditional identity to the social

    changes in Saudi society, writing that the attraction[s] to Western

    lie-style have drawn Saudi attention away rom developing a clear

    and concise understanding o the evolution o a traditional living environment.14 Tese studies agree on the negative

    impact o Western images on Saudi cities.

    At the same time, however, people were ascinated by Western images. Boon comments on the strong inuence o colo-

    nial villas in the Middle East.15 Al-Gabbani nds that in Riyadh most o the housing units constructed ollow Western

    models which symbolize prestige and use costly imported materials.16 While indicating that modern architecture in

    Saudi Arabia is seen to be culturally destructive, Abu-Ghazzehcriticizes the desire o Saudi architects to reect images

    o economic and technological development through the adoption o Western design due to the disassociation o the

    privileged business elite rom their cultural roots.17 Tese people tried to express themselves in the urban environmen

    through images mainly borrowed rom the West. Tis then encouraged the middle classes to imitate the Western images

    that were created by the business elite.18 Tis is not to say that people did not express their own socio-cultural values in

    their urban areas, but that people experienced new things or the rst time. Personal and social identities were expressed

    9. Saudi academic working at King Fahad University or Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.10. F. Konash, Evaluation o Western Architecture in Saudi Arabia: Guideline and Critique, Unpublished Master TesisAlbuquerque, New Mexico, University o New Mexico (1980).11. Saudi academic, (PhD, MI, 1980) who worked as Deputy Minister or Urban Planning in the Ministry o Municipal andRural Aairs, Riyadh.12. S. Al-Hathloul, Tradition, Continuity, and Change in the Physical Environment: e Arab-Muslim City , Unpublished PhDTesis, MI, Cambridge (1981).Te study introduces or the rst time the impact o Western urban concepts on the Saudi-home environment. Also, it suggests that urban orm within the Arab-Muslim city is to be ound not within the physicalelements themselves but within their system o arrangement (the rules o conduct), then these elements can be adapted or

    can even change so long as their system o arrangement or their relationships remain constant, p. 266.13. Saudi academic (PhD rom MI, 1983), at King Saud University, Riyadh.14. Y.M. Fadan, e Development of Contemporary Housing in Saudi Arabia, (1950-1983), Unpublished PhD Tesis, MICambridge (1983), p. 15.15. J. Boon, Te Modern Saudi Villa: Its Cause and Eect,American Journal for Science and Engineering, Vol. 7, No. 2 (1982)pp. 132-143.16. M. Al-Gabbani, Community Structure, Residential Satisfaction, and Preferences in a Rapidly Changing Urban EnvironmentTe Case o Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Unpublished PhD Tesis, Michigan, University o Michigan (1984).17. Jordanian Academic.18. . Abu-Ghazzeh, Vernacular Architecture Education in the Islamic Society o Saudi Arabia: owards the Development oan Authentic Contemporary Built Environment, Habitat Int., Vol. 21, No. 2 (1997), pp. 229-253.

    Figure 3: Ministry o Interior Riyadh

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    through extensive alterations to those houses later on.

    In the 1980s things changed. Tere was a mix o Western

    traditional, and historical (mostly Arab-Islamic) images in

    the Saudi urban environment,19 reecting the conscious e-

    ort by designers to create visual identity in the urban en-

    vironment. We can see some buildings strongly inuenced

    by the prevailing global trends in architecture, such as post-

    modernism and regionalism. Other examples are extremely

    ormal and ar rom local cultural images, such as Greek or Roman classical styles. In the best cases, we can see some

    buildings imitating traditional orms or borrowing some orms rom Arab-Islamic traditions such as Mamluk architec

    ture.20 On the other hand, Moi,21 or example, criticized these new buildings, which derived their physical orms rom

    dierent resources.

    Indeed, most studies o Saudi Arabias built environment have attributed the lack o identity to borrowed physica

    elements, and have ocused on the impact o borrowed orms on visual identity rather than paying more attention to

    relationships between people and the surrounding physical objects. One local newspaper editorial cried out: Issue: our

    contemporary buildings have no identity.22 Te editor warned that the architectural crisis o our contemporary build-

    ings increases day aer day a conusion o images is the only description or our contemporary buildings.

    Most o the suggestions or maintaining identity center on re-using traditional images. Boon, or example, suggests that

    in order to have an identity, it is important to revive traditional urban images.23 Al-Nowaiser24 reaches the same conclu-

    sion, indicating that, in order to reect a genuine sense o identity, it is necessary to nd valid eatures o architectural

    heritage to incorporate into the contemporary Saudi urban environment.25

    In act the modernization process in Saudi Arabia was primarily political and tried to re-create physical orms rather

    than generating any real change at the socio-cultural level. Saudi cities changed only their appearance, while the cul-

    tural values remained conservative and in line with traditional Saudi society. Tis obvious contradiction is reected in

    the urban orm and physical identity, which slowly became very exotic and ar-removed rom the images and practica

    19. M. Al-Angari (the ormer mayor o Riyadh) mentioned in 1983 that Riyadh had several architectural styles such asEuropean, Islamic, and vernacular.Assyasa (Kuwaiti Newspaper), June 2, 1983.20. F.A. Moi, ransormation in the Built Environment in Saudi Arabia, Urban Futures, Vol. 2, No. 4 (1989), pp. 17-26.21. Saudi academic at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.22. Al-Yaum (Arabic newspaper), No. 8698, February 4, 1997.23. Boon, Te Modern Saudi Villa: Its Cause and Eect, p. 142.24. Saudi academic at King Saud University, Riyadh.25. M.A. Al-Nowaiser,Te Role o raditional and Modern Residential Urban Settlements on the Quality o EnvironmentaExperience in Saudi Arabia: Unyeh and New Alkabra in Alkasseem Region, Unpublished PhD Tesis, Caliornia, Universityo Southern Caliornia (1983), p. 328.


    Figure 4: Qasr Tuwaiq Riyadh

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    values o ordinary people.

    Tis led to what can be called a hesitant urban identity, exacerbated

    in part by governmental planning. Since 1968, when Doxiadis started

    planning Riyadh, the Saudi government initiated more than 100 plans

    or most o the Saudi city, concentrating on physical planning and pay-

    ing little attention to socio-cultural actors. Te resulting conict in the

    urban orms has increased the gap between residents and their urban

    environment, a phenomenon which has played a major role in the cul-

    tural resistance towards built environments in Saudi Arabia.

    Tese recent and continuing shis o emphasis within the built environment in Saudi Arabia are reactions to this sense

    o lost identity.26 Borrowing rom the past is used as a tool to maintain visual identity in Saudi Arabia. Al-Shuaibi2states that designers o various disciplines always borrow rom the past, whether ancient or recent.28 Abu-Gezzeh also

    encourages those buildings which he calls hybrid regional architecture. For him, this type o building reects both

    modern and traditional inuences.29

    Critical to urbanization issues such as this in Saudi Arabia is the role

    o public participation in government planning, which mostly has

    been minimal thus ar. Although Saudi Arabia has started to elect

    municipal councils, the role o these councils is largely consultative

    rather than decisive. Tis may change in the near uture due to pub-

    lic pressure, but until this changes, responsibility or the urban orm

    in Saudi Arabia remains in just a ew hands.

    Whether the Saudi built environment will continue in its conserva-

    tism, or open its arms to global trends, the identity o the Saudi urban

    orm has already been craed. Change will be dicult. Most important is to what extent Saudi society will absorb global

    trends while maintaining its identity, and the uture o the decision making process in urban planning.

    26. Early attempts to re-use traditional images in contemporary buildings started in the late 1970s, especially in governmentalbuildings. Tis can be attributed to the worldwide raised consciousness about the local cultures. M. Al-Naim, CultureHistory, and Architecture: Qasr Al-Hokm District in Riyadh,Ahlan Washlan (Sau