Through its Modern Heritage Initiative, Abu Dhabi has set itself apart from other urban centers in the UAE and region.
Non-Resident Fellow, AGSIW; Adjunct Professor of Architecture, GSAPP, Columbia University
Yasser Elsheshtawy is a non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington and an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. He previously served as a visiting scholar at AGSIW. Elsheshtawy has authored more than 70 publications, including Dubai: Behind an Urban Spectacle, a key reference on the city’s urban development. His most recent book is Temporary Cities: Resisting Transience in Arabia. He also edited The Evolving Arab City: Tradition, Modernity, and Development, which received the 2010 International Planning History Society Best Book Award, and Planning Middle Eastern Cities: An Urban Kaleidoscope. Most recently, two chapters on urban development in the Arab world were published in the widely known “City Planning and Urban Design Readers,” which are comprised of key influential texts on urban planning and design.
Elsheshtawy has presented his research at numerous international institutions, such as Washington, DC’s Smithsonian Institute, INALCO Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, Tongji University-Shanghai, Harvard Graduate School of Design, ETH-Zurich, the Louvre Auditorium-Paris, and the Canadian Center of Architecture-Montreal. He was also involved as a consultant with the United Nation’s Economic and Social Commission of Western Asia and the Urban Land Institute in Washington, DC. He was an evaluator for recently announced megaprojects in Riyadh, commissioned by the Riyadh Development Authority, and has been consulted on several other projects in Saudi Arabia.
Elsheshtawy has a PhD in architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a master’s degree in architecture from Pennsylvania State University, and a Bachelor of Architecture from Cairo University.
It is difficult to reconcile Saudi Arabia’s vision for sustainability with The Mukaab in its current form – but it’s not too late for a course correction.
Still in its early stages, Jeddah Central can build on lessons from other urban renewal projects to focus on inclusive urban development to benefit all people rather than simply a select few.
The UAE’s participation in the biennale, and being recognized as a leading architectural force, is an important step toward engaging with sociopolitical issues and toward considering the extent to which the built environment can contribute to an equitable and sustainable future.
Regardless of whether The Line comes to fruition, the most important aspect of the project may be its promotion of a new vision of urban living.
The khaleeji city embraces the fleeting and transitory. Yet amid this transience, migrants have attempted to create a home and set down roots.
Through a series of megaprojects aimed at beautifying the city, Riyadh has the potential to offer a unique model of urbanity that can be a counterpoint to the more speculative trends pervasive in the region.
Abu Dhabi’s Cultural Quarter, opened at the site of what was long the city's social and cultural heart, is unique in its integration of culture and space, and could serve as a model for urban regeneration.
Five Arab countries are participating in the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, including, for the first time, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
Richard Sennett, renowned sociologist and urbanist, in his 1970 classic “The Uses of Disorder” called for an embrace of disorder, noting that it has a positive value and needs to be increased in city life.