Zahra Babar, Associate Director of Research at CIRS, along with Veronika Deffner from Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore, and Aurel von Richthofen The Future Cities Laboratory, Singapore-ETH Centre, served as co-directors of the Gulf Research Meeting Workshop on “Arab Gulf Cities in Transition: Space, Politics and Society” on August 16-19, 2016. The workshop centered around cities in the Arab Gulf that are developing in a fast and unprecedented way. The vast majority of the growing population of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are concentrated in these cities. While they are a focal point for immigration, they are unique spaces and places on various other levels, too: In many cases the Arab Gulf cities represent the exclusive political and economic centers of their countries; they consume a vast amount of energy; they have surpassed other Arab cities in their size and scale; their exponential growth is driven by diminishing fossil resources and, therefore, they have realized the urgent need to adopt sustainable development policies.
These and many other challenges play out in a limited urban territory. Urban Space is the playground for various actors to engage in this ongoing process of transformation; likewise, it is an important common denominator for territorial processes of political and social scale. Since these developments are increasingly interconnected, urban phenomena have repercussions on regional levels. Gearing them towards sustainability would contribute to stability and prosperity in the Gulf region. Urban and regional development policies need to be developed on the basis of GCC-wide recommendations. Understanding the urban dynamics of the Arab Gulf cities through the perspective of changing spatial practices contributes to the interdisciplinary development of Gulf Studies and becomes key for a holistic understanding of the GCC states. Read More.