The Postcolonial Economy and Mixed Capitalism

The year 1991 is one many commentators and analysts of Cairo's modern history will remember for years to come. Interrelated national and 'global' political and economic events that year have led to significant developments in Egypt's socio-political and economic spheres as well as the urban condition in its capital city. One incisive event was the decision taken by the Egyptian government to join the American-led coalition in the second Gulf War, which won the country a brief economic respite...

Khaled Adham

The effects of recent privatization and general 'globalization' of capital and society in Egypt as well as the ensuing urban and real estate explosion of Cairo, particularly of new exclusive urban spaces of consumption for the elite segment of society, have a sense of newness about them.1 Close observers of Egypt's modern history, however, experience a d j vu has Cairo been down this road before, or is this an untrammelled route in the city's socio-economic and urban narratives There are indeed...

Changing the Traditional Architecture of Baghdad

Despite the general deterioration in Iraq during the late Ottoman period, traditional architecture managed to continue into the twentieth century (figure 4.4). This can still be seen today in some old neighbourhoods of Baghdad. These traditional buildings played an important role as a source of local architectural knowledge and design concepts. Until the end of the nineteenth century, it was common for local craftsmen and those occupying and using buildings to function as designers. The local...

The Globalization Hybridity Discourse

Many would argue that globalization has been part of the socio-political landscape in the Middle East since colonial times. Finding theoretical justification through disciplines such as 'Orientalism' - the study of Eastern cultures - which were meant to establish the superiority of the West, and an establishment of an 'other' which needs to be carefully studied, analysed and in turn 'domesticated' to fit with a 'universal' notion of appropriateness (Said, 1978). However, a theoretical shift has...

Fragmentation and Mythical Environments

While these projects are admirable in their sheer scope and ambition, they tend to highlight the downside of globalization. One might argue that they represent a form of hybrid development - at a purely formal level, but also in terms of adding value to the city and the country - they nevertheless emphasize 'polarization' and 'exclusive-ness', an unfortunate by-product. The two projects have a number of commonalities. First is the use of superlatives to describe them whether it is the 'tallest'...

The Peoples Role

Ordinary people had an important role in shaping Baghdad and its architecture by their individual actions or together with the cooperative unions. This was through their participation in construction activities, in applying individual design concepts, and in modifying the existing buildings and open spaces. This involved houses and small commercial buildings, which were often designed by the inhabitants and local builders. They might copy design solutions from existing buildings or plans done...

The Megaprojects

We already live in a town of cities Internet City, Healthcare City, Media City, Festival City. Is the Sheikh Zayed road soon to be renamed Skyscraper city Perhaps eventually each activity will have its own city, and we will find ourselves visiting Hamburger City for takeaways, Gritty City for car washes, Ditty City for CD's and music . . . we do wonder though why the most important thing of all - knowledge - only warrants a village and not a city. Editorial, scene magazine, Dubai, March 2003 In...

The Narrative of Loss

The typical architectural urban narrative of the Middle Eastern city is a narrative of loss. A great, once flourishing civilization has through colonization been subjected to plundering and exploitation of resources - and thus cities are in a perpetual state of underdevelopment. Furthermore, the argument goes, this trend is exacerbated and amplified through the current universalization (or globalization) discourse. Traditional readings of the Middle Eastern city thus dominate, showing it as an...

The Free Market Period the 1990s

This was a very disturbing decade in Algerian history, dominated by the rise of terrorism and political instability. As a result, there were no noticeable urban renewal projects within Algiers apart from localized small-scale development. However, by the end of this decade, Algiers was given a new status to improve its image and to guide its urban and economic growth effectively. The Plan d'Urbanisme Directeur (PUD), which took years to develop, was never adopted. In December 1990, the Wilaya...

Overview and Developments

This section contains three cities Algiers, Baghdad, and Sana'a. Their authors have elected to provide a general overview of their selected cities prompted in part by a realization that they have not, for a variety of reasons, responded to the globalizing influence occurring throughout the world. There are several reasons for this terrorism in Algiers, and the Gulf War in both Iraq and Yemen, which have all been external factors hindering the emergence of these cities as global players. None of...

Community Living

Unlike the old city quarters, in which people from the same social class or tribal background live together in a homogenous community and develop strong social ties that usually extend to subsequent generations, those living in the new housing districts come from very different social classes and tribal backgrounds. In the new districts, one can find communities with very heterogeneous social backgrounds living in the same street or even in the same building. Because of this high degree of...

Extramural Expansion and Urban Growth

Starting in 1880, wine production was the main driving force of colonial urban development in Algeria. After the total destruction of the vineyards in France by Phylloxera in 1875, the French government encouraged large-scale planting of vineyards in Algeria (Comedor, 1972). For better exploitation of the hinterland, a railway network was developed linking the rural areas with different ports, so enabling the export of agricultural products to metropolitan markets. Therefore, colonization,...

Colonial Algiers

Early records of Algiers date back to the fifth century BC when the site attracted the Phoenicians. After this, no major events were recorded until the first century AD when Algiers became a Roman colony. Berbers inhabited the region of Sahel for centuries and records of these settlers date back to the first century AD (Chennaoui, 2000a). The Arab period had two stages the first from the sixth century after the collapse of the Roman empire when there were the successive attempts by the Arabs to...

Dreamland An Oriental Vision of the Occident

Like Baron Empain, Ahmed Bahgat, the Chairman of the Bahgat Group and the progenitor of the huge real estate project, Dreamland, is an industrialist who, along with many other Egyptian entrepreneurs, jumped on the bandwagon of real estate business during the economic boom of the 1990s.24 The anticipated quick, high profitability of land development in comparison with other manufacturing businesses was the lure to enter the real estate market. According to the Investment Authority, between 1993...

The Colonial Economy and Agrarian Capitalism

The process by which capitalism emerged in Egypt is a complex story that can only be sketch-ily dealt with here. In part, the process must be recognized as having roots that go back to some sporadic events during the nineteenth century. Before this time, Egyptian society lacked some of the common features that define what economists and historians would describe as capitalist society. True, there might have been some capitalist transformation of the Egyptian economy by Muslim merchants and...

Parting Thoughts

There is little evidence to suggest that Heliopolis was any more authentic than the Dreamland of today (figures 7.5 and 7.6). Both developments depended on the production of fantasy and entertainment for promoting their commodity, which is no less than space itself. I concede that to some people Heliopolis may seem more authentic because of the use of Arab architectural style. But let us not forget that both developments reflected the underlying economic and social processes of their respective...

Yasser Elsheshtawy

The desert on the other side was, most of the time, flat, hard and desolate nothing and no one came from its depth except rarely. . . The bedouin who had at first refused to go near the sea or take part in unloading cargoes from the small boats were soon won over. It seemed to them curious, arousing and somewhat risky, and before long they went closer to the sea. They did so hesitantly, in stages, with a sense of experimentation and secrecy. . . but their fear never left them, for 'water is...

Social Issues

People who come from the same social class or have the same tribal roots usually live in the same area or quarter inside the old city of Sana'a. They live together in a homogenous community and develop strong social relations that usually extend over several generations. Over time they build strong relations of trust and cooperation and develop a very strong sense of community. The offer of help by those who can provide it to the other members of the same community is usually regarded as an act...

The International Architects

As mentioned above, the British architects who had settled in Baghdad following the First World War established the early tradition of using international architects in the city. Improving economic conditions in Iraq encouraged local governments to develop the urban structure of Iraqi cities, particularly Baghdad. This development, which increased gradually from the 1950s and reached its peak during the 1970s, influenced both architectural education and practice. In the 1950s, the Iraqi...

Heliopolis A European Vision of the Orient

With the clairvoyance of a successful businessman, Baron Edouard Empain, the Belgian banker and business tycoon bustled to Cairo in 1894 in anticipation of the economic boom. Armed with a fortune he had made earlier in the Congo and France, he persuaded the government to grant him a concession to establish a tramway system in the city. By compressing space and time, the tram system changed the appearance of Cairo and the way of life for many Egyptians. The new European transportation technology...

An Island shaped like a Palm Tree

Located near the Burj Al-Arab Hotel is the Jumeirah Palm Island, a palm tree shaped resort island on land reclaimed from the sea (figures 8.9 and 8.10). The official numbers and statistics pertaining to the project are quite impressive it will add 120 km of sandy beaches and will include 2000 villas, up to 40 luxury hotels, shopping complexes, cinemas and a marine park. The island will be built in the shape of 17 huge fronds surrounded by 12 kilometres of protective barrier reefs, extending 5...

The Need for a Novel Approach

Sana'a today lives in two disconnected, yet Figure 5.16. Fa ade and windows - comparison between traditional designs and modern designs. Figure 5.16. Fa ade and windows - comparison between traditional designs and modern designs. adjacent, worlds. People of the first look for independence and high standards of modern life and dislike the old unclean life of the old city, while people of the second are proud of their heritage, appreciate community living, and refuse to accept the intrusion of a...

Tower of the Arabs

Burj Al-Arab, or Tower of the Arabs, is a 56 storey 28 double height floors 7 star hotel containing 202 suites, three restaurants, a conference centre and health spa. The hotel is built 290 metres out to sea on a man-made landscaped island figure 8.8 . The accommodation wings enclose two sides of a triangular atrium that runs the full height of the building. Its height is 321 metres making it the tallest hotel in the world and the fifteenth tallest building. The hotel contains a helipad at a...