GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
A. Alraouf
First Name:
Title of Paper:
Contemporary Gulf Cities’ Urbanism: The Dilemma of Unsustainable Developments and Energy Conservation.
Paper Proposal Text :
In the decade, and at a remarkable pace, Gulf cities have developed into a global crossroads, and are now thriving on a new type of post-global condition. Yet, crucial questions emerged; what are the consequences of such a competition on the future of Gulf cities? Is the lack of considering sustainable concepts in their strategic development will result in negative consequences in the near future? It is evident that while the whole world is living a new paradigm where the value of sustainability is becoming the real wealth of cities and communities, Gulf cities are still enjoying the luxury of cheap oil and the illusion of timeless energy resources. Buildings and cities are designed and constructed with almost a total neglect for the global environmental issues.

How Gulf Cities plan for the future is critical to cutting emissions of CO2 and other ‘greenhouse’ gases responsible for climate change. The key to low carbon living is how buildings, spaces, places and transport systems are planned and managed. The future design of the city will also help us to cope with extreme weather changes – heat, downpours, and stronger winds. Carbon emissions are important. But they are only part of the evidence of the inefficient way in which natural resources are being used everywhere. As these resources dwindle, so environmental and economic pressures increase to use them less wastefully. This is why an energy efficient, sustainable Gulf city will also be a more competitive, wealthier city. The challenge is not just about how we live in our houses, though – it is how we live our lives. Cities consume massive amounts of energy, and only a tiny amount of the energy a city imports is “green”. This means a leakage of billions of dollars from any Gulf city’s economy. The challenge is to capture energy instead from solar, ground and air sources, and from waste. This means new partnerships and new local decentralized energy distribution systems.

Gulf cities are witnessing rapid urbanization in an unprecedented way. The overall urbanity of cities like Dubai, Doha, or Manama is changing on unpredictable breathtaking rhythm. Yet, these developments lake sustainable strategy to guarantee the optimistic impact on the environment and its ability to preserve earth’s resources for generations to come. Therefore, it is fundamentally important to fully understand the main principles of a sustainable city. A well designed, sustainable city will provide a better quality of life for all, being a healthier, less polluted and quieter place to live and work in.

Most of Gulf cities are competing to imitate Dubai in its unprecedented effort to build the tallest, the biggest and the largest ever built architectural and urban statements. This phenomenon can be best described as “The process of Dubaization”. Yet, crucial questions emerged; what are the consequences of such a competition on the future of Gulf cities? What kind of social life that will emerge out of this development. Is this a process of constructing, reconstructing or deconstructing identities and territorial outlook of our cities? And finally, is there any future for sustainability in developmental strategies of Gulf and Middle Eastern cities. Major conflicts are resulting from this process which include failing to consider sustainability in development planning, limited interpretation of globalization and degradation of locality.
In this paper, I’ll argue that a major change towards full implementation of sustainable strategies is highly needed. It is the responsibility of designers, developers and above all decision makers to adopt new policies in planning, urban design, architecture. Policies that will lead primarily to a new way of understanding the fact that our energy resources are limited and drying up. The paper will suggest a shift towards a more sustainable and green design approach for buildings, neighborhoods, and cities where new and renewable sources of energy are adopted without compromising the aesthetics of the built environment.

Keywords: Globalization – Sustainable Development - Strategic Planning – Gulf Cities – Energy Conservation - Green Design – Sustainable Architecture and Urbanism.