Master Planning and the Evolving Urban Model in the Gulf Cities: Principles, Policies, and Practices for the Transition to Sustainable Urbanism

The significant predicament of sustainable urbanism in contempor­ary cities of the Gulf region is being addressed by developing policies designed to make cities safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable. By examining the accessible planning documents, and based on the analysis of the ongoing world-class developments and megaprojects within the Gulf cities, particularly in Doha and Dubai, we argue that there is an inconsistency between the master-planning phase, usually conducted by western consultants, and the economic, political, socio-cultural, and environmental dynamics of the Gulf. Our analysis revealed insensitivity to the local, economic and socio-cultural pat­terns of the Arab Gulf countries and a governmental lack of capacity of national planners that may erode the opportunities to implement sustainable urbanism. It is suggested that, although globalization and modernization may have brought some benefits to the Gulf cities such as improvement in living standards and changes in society and lifestyles, yet an innovative master planning that merges land use and strategic planning based on building national capacities, and a holistic understanding of the social, cultural and oil-dominated economies and community engagement, is essential to deliver sus­tainable urbanism in the region. Recommendations for moving towards more capable, participatory and sustainable planning sys­tem are suggested in the paper.

Esmat Zaidan (2019) Cultural-based challenges of the westernised approach
to development in newly developed societies, Development in Practice, 29:5, 570-581, DOI:

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