The Arab World is perceived to be a region rampant with constructed
and ambiguous national identities, overwhelming wealth and poverty,
religious diversity, and recently the Arab uprisings, a bottom-up
revolution shaking the foundations of pre-established,
long-standing hierarchies. It is also a region that has witnessed a
remarkable level of transformation and development due to the
accelerated pace imposed by post-war reconstruction, environmental
degradation, and the competition among cities for world visibility
and tourism. Accordingly, the Arab World is a prime territory for
questioning urban design, inviting as it does a multiplicity of
opportunities for shaping, upgrading, and rebuilding urban form and
civic space while subjecting global paradigms to regional and local
realities. Providing a critical overview of the state of
contemporary urban design in the Arab World, this book
conceptualizes the field under four major perspectives: urban
design as discourse, as discipline, as research, and as practice.
It poses two questions. How can such a diversity of practice be
positioned with regard to current international trends in urban
design? Also, what constitutes the specificity of the Middle
Eastern experience in light of the regional political and cultural
settings? This book is about urban designers 'on the margins': how
they narrate their cities, how they engage with their discipline,
and how they negotiate their distance from, and with respect to
global disciplinary trends. As such, the term margins implies three
complementary connotations: on the global level, it invites
speculation on the way contemporary urban design is being impacted
by the new conceptualizations of center-periphery originating from
the post-colonial discourse; on the regional level, it is a
speculation on the specificity of urban design thinking and
practice within a particular geographical and cultural context
(here, the Arab World); and finally, on the local level, it is an a
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