Workshop: Place Making and the Cultural Identity of Cities, Beirut Arab University

  • Ashraf Salama (Invited speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course


Title: Multiple Architectural Modernities on the Arabian Peninsula in a World of Global Flows -------- Since the dawn of the new millennium, it was apparent that a new phase influencing the development of architecture and urbanism in the Arabian Peninsula had begun, when rulers, decision makers, and top government officials developed stronger interest in architecture. With such a sturdy interest many cities on the Peninsula are experiencing rapid growth coupled with fast track urbanization processes, and marked by large scale work, learning and residential environments, and mixed use developments, from Abu-Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island Development to Bahrain Financial Harbor, and from Kuwait’s City of Silk to the future city of Qatar, Lusail. Notably, some cities have acquired a geo-strategic importance. Through the shift of global economic forces, they have developed to central hubs between old economies of Western Europe and the rising economies of Asia. In the context of international competition between cities new challenges are emerging. Architecture and urbanism in the gulf region continues to be regarded as a crucial catalyst for cities to sustain their position in the milieu of a global knowledge intensive economy that is identified as the key driver for spatial-urban development, which includes international services, high tech industries, and trans-cultural higher education institutions. While Dubai has come to set the stage as an exemplar of a global city, other cities are inspired, aspired, and are now competing through their architecture and urbanism where new cities and large scale urban regeneration projects are being constructed or in their completion phases. Architecture of the Arabian Peninsula is witnessing dramatic twists that represent different interests or attitudes, yet a narrative can explain each. In essence, the variety and plurality of perspectives and interests mandate a reflection characterized by unbiased openness that may reveal a collective narrative, which in turn, elucidates the contemporary condition of architecture and urbanism in the gulf region. Hence, the impetus of this presentation is that it establishes a number of narratives that portray such a condition. The main driver narrative, or originator of subsequent narratives, is the notion of the space of flows and the rising competition between cities on the Arabian Peninsula. Other narratives address matters relevant to constructed identities and the underlying dialectical relationship between tradition and modernity; the paradox of dealing with architecture as a spectacle versus a receptacle; the fact that there is a diversity of trends representing multiple modernities characterizing urbanism in the gulf; and the substance of architecture and the role it can play as a sustenance.
Period11 Apr 2013
Event typeConference
LocationBeirut, LebanonShow on map


  • Globalisation
  • cultural identity
  • architectural trends
  • tradition
  • modernity
  • urban transformations