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Yasser Elsheshtawy

Keynote Speaker

Yasser Elsheshtawy is a Professor of Architecture and Independent Scholar. His scholarship focuses on urbanization in developing societies, informal urbanism, urban history and environment-behavior studies, with a particular focus on Middle Eastern cities. He is currently a Non-Resident Scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, DC and an Adjunct Professor at Columbia GSAPP where he teaches two courses: “Housing in the Arab World” and “Arab Cities & Cinema.”

Moreover, he is involved professionally as an Independent Consultant and has worked on numerous projects in Saudi Arabia, collaborating with renowned architectural and planning practices. He taught at United Arab Emirates University from 1997 till 2017, and was appointed as Curator for the UAE Pavilion at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016. Additionally, he was a Visiting Professor at Université Paris Sorbonne during the Fall semester of 2017.

He has authored more than 70 publications including Riyadh: Transforming a Desert City, Temporary Cities, and Dubai: Behind an Urban Spectacle a key reference on the city’s urban development (ranked no. 1 on Amazon under the ‘United Arab Emirates History’ category in September ‘17). He also edited The Evolving Arab City which received the 2010 IPHS (International Planning History Society) best book award, and Planning Middle Eastern Cities. Two chapters on urban development in the Arab world were published in the widely-known City Planning and Urban Design Readers which are comprised of key influential texts on urban planning and design.

He was invited to present his research at numerous international institutions, such as INALCOUniversité Sorbonne Paris Cité, NYU-AD, Politecnico Milano, University of Macau, Tongji University-Shanghai, Harvard Graduate School of Design, ETH-Zurich, the Louvre Auditorium-Paris, the Canadian Center of Architecture-Montreal and Virginia Commonwealth University of the Arts in Qatar.  He was one of the lead authors for the UN-Habitat’s “State of the Arab Cities 2020” report where he looked at infrastructure in Arab cities. Furthermore, he has been interviewed by many notable news and media outlets including Radio Monocle, National Geographic, The Guardian, Boston Globe, New Line Magazine and ArchDaily. His blog “” has been hailed by The Guardian as one of the notable city blogs in the world.

Elsheshtawy has a PhD in Architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a Master in Architecture from Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelor of Architecture from Cairo University.

Contribution to Tasmeem
Opening Keynote (Re)Constructing Urban Spaces: Unearthing the Palimpsest in Arabia



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