International Development Planning Review

Cultural resilience in contemporary urbanism: the case of Sharjah, UAE

International Development Planning Review (2013), 35, (3), 241–260.

Abstract

After four decades of rapid urbanisation and construction, cities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are in danger of losing their social and cultural identities. The UAE federation was created in 1971 to unite the country as a political and economic structure, but the country's territorial and urban structures are yet to be realised. The disparity between urbanised areas as isolated mega theme parks and the country's rich cultural resources misrepresent the UAE. This paper argues that, despite globalising urbanisation, the resilience of cultural heritage enhances the UAE's urban sustainability. Hereinafter, heritage is taken to mean not museum-like artifacts, but a more resilient culturally dynamic impetus. By analysing the urban morphology of the city of Sharjah, I examine the challenge of preserving its cultural image in the face of overwhelming pressure from its global neighbour, Dubai. This paper concludes with a discussion on the integration of cultural resources into contemporary urbanism, arguing that further attention ought to be given to the role of cultural resilience in the making of cities in the Gulf countries.

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ASSMANN, J. and CZAPLICKA, J. (1995), ‘Collective Memory and Cultural Identity’, New German Critique, 65, 125-33. ‘Collective Memory and Cultural Identity’ New German Critique 65 125 33 Google Scholar

BOURDIEU, P. (1968), ‘The Forms of Capital,’ Handbook of Theory and Research for Sociology of Education, Greenwood Press, New York, 241-58. Handbook of Theory and Research for Sociology of Education 241 58 Google Scholar

BOURDIEU, P. (1984), Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, Trans. Richard Nice, Rutledge & Kegan Paul Ltd. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste Google Scholar

BOYER, M. (1996), The City of Collective Memory, Its Historical Imagery and Architectural Entertainments, MIT Press, Cambridge. The City of Collective Memory, Its Historical Imagery and Architectural Entertainments Google Scholar

CALTHORPE, P. (1993), The Next American Metropolis: Ecology Community and the American Dream. Princeton University Press: Princeton. The Next American Metropolis: Ecology Community and the American Dream Google Scholar

CHOAY, F. (1970), The Modern City, Planning in the 19th Century, Trans. Marguerite Hugo, George R. Collins and G. Braziller, New York. The Modern City, Planning in the 19th Century Google Scholar

COOMARASWAMY, A. (1956), Christian and Oriental Art, Dover Publications, New York. Christian and Oriental Art Google Scholar

ELSHESHTAWY, Y (2004), ‘Redrawing Boundaries: Dubai, an Emerging Global City,’ in Planning Middle Eastern Cities: An Ubran Kaleidoscipe in a Globalizing World, Yasser ElSheshtawy (ed), Rutledge, London, 169-99. Planning Middle Eastern Cities: An Ubran Kaleidoscipe in a Globalizing World 169 99 Google Scholar

ELSHESHTAWY, Y (2008), Transitory Sites: Mapping Dubai's Forgotten Urban Spaces, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 32, 968-88. Transitory Sites: Mapping Dubai's Forgotten Urban Spaces International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 32 968 88 Google Scholar

FOX. J., SABBAH N. M., and AL-MUTAWA, M. (eds) (2006), Globalization and the Gulf, Routledge, New York. Globalization and the Gulf Google Scholar

FRAMPTON, K. (2000), The CIAM Discourse on Urbanism, 1928-1960, MIT Press, Cambridge. The CIAM Discourse on Urbanism, 1928-1960 Google Scholar

GEDDES, P. (1950), Cities in Evolution, Oxford University Press, New York. Cities in Evolution Google Scholar

GREGOTTI, V. (1996), Inside Architecture, Trans. Peter Wong and Francesca Zaccheo, MIT Press, Cambridge Inside Architecture Google Scholar

JACKSON, J. (1994), A Sense of Place, a Sense of Time, Yale University Press, New Heaven. A Sense of Place, a Sense of Time Google Scholar

JACOBS, JANE (1992), The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Vintage Books Edition, New York. The Death and Life of Great American Cities Google Scholar

KHALAF, S. (2006), ‘The Evolution of the Gulf City Type, Oil and Globalization,’ in J. W. Fox, N. Mourtada Sabbah and M. Al-Mutawa (eds.), Globalization and the Gulf, Routledge, Alingdon and New York. Globalization and the Gulf Google Scholar

KOOLHAAS, REM (1995), ‘What Ever Happened to Urbanism?’, in S, M, L, XL, R. Koolhaas and B. Mau (eds), The Monicelli Press, New York, 959-71. S, M, L, XL 959 71 Google Scholar

LECORBUSIER (1973), The Athens Charter, Transl. Anthony Eardley, Grossman Publishers, New York. Google Scholar

LYNCH, K. (1972), What Time is This Place, MIT Press, Cambridge. What Time is This Place Google Scholar

MUMFORD, LEWIS (1996), The Culture of Cities, Harcourt Brace, New York (first edition 1938). The Culture of Cities Google Scholar

NORBERG-SCHULZ, C. (1980), Genius Loci, Rizzoli International Publication, Inc., New York Genius Loci Google Scholar

RIAD, M. (1981), ‘Some Aspects of Petro-Urbanism in the Arab Gulf States,’ Bulletin of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences 4, Qatar University. Google Scholar

RICOEUR, P. (1965), ‘Universal Civilization and National Cultures,’ in History and Truth, Tans. Chas. A. Kelbley, Northwestern University Press, Evanston, 278. History and Truth 278 Google Scholar

ROWE, C. and KOETTER, F. (1978), Collage City, MIT Press, Cambridge. Collage City Google Scholar

SAID, EDWARD W. (1979), Orientalism, Vintage Books, New York. Orientalism Google Scholar

SERT, J. L. (1942), Can Our Cities Survive? An ABC of Urban Problems, Their Analysis, Their Solutions, Harvard University Press, Cambridge. Can Our Cities Survive? An ABC of Urban Problems, Their Analysis, Their Solutions Google Scholar

SUMMIT COMMUNICATIONS, ‘Sharjah, promoting the culture of understanding,’ (advertising supplement to The New York Times Magazine, 13 May 2007). Google Scholar

TAYLOR, NIGEL (1998), Urban Planning Theory Since 1945, SAGE Publications, London. Urban Planning Theory Since 1945 Google Scholar

UNESCSO (2002), ‘Resolution 15 adopted by the General Conference at its 31st session,’ in Resolutions, Vol. 1, Paris, 62. Google Scholar

WIRTH, LOUIS (1938), ‘Urbanism as a Way of Life,’ American Journal of Sociology, 44, 1-24. ‘Urbanism as a Way of Life,’ American Journal of Sociology 44 1 24 Google Scholar

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Author details

Radoine, Hassan