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.
Former Visiting Scholar
Yasser Elsheshtawy is a former visiting scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. He is a professor of architecture and an independent scholar. His scholarship focuses on urbanization in developing societies, informal urbanism, urban history, and environment-behavior studies, with a particular focus on Middle Eastern cities. He is currently an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation where he teaches a course on housing in the Arab world. He taught at United Arab Emirates University from 1997 -2017, and was appointed as curator for the UAE Pavilion at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016. Additionally, he was a visiting professor at Université Paris Sorbonne during the fall semester of 2017.
Elsheshtawy has authored more than 70 publications, including Dubai: Behind an Urban Spectacle, a key reference on the city’s urban development (ranked number one on Amazon under the “United Arab Emirates History” category in September 2017). 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. He is currently working on a book about the Gulf Arab city provisionally titled Temporary Cities.
Elsheshtawy has presented his research at numerous international institutions, such as INALCO Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, NYU-AD, Politecnico Milano, University of Macau, 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 has been interviewed by many notable news and media outlets including Radio Monocle, National Geographic, The Guardian, Boston Globe and ArchDaily. His blog dubaization.com has been hailed by The Guardian as one of the notable city blogs in the world.
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.
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.
Over the last few years many cities have attempted to integrate cultural developments within their overall planning strategy.
On November 27, 2013 the Bureau International des Expositions elected Dubai as the host for World Expo 2020.
On November 11, Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors to the public after a long and arduous construction process that survived an economic crisis, a financial downturn, post-Arab Spring turmoil, and all sorts of technical delays.