Image for Building Successful Modern Arab Cities | Yasser Elsheshtawy | 25 Years of VCUarts Qatar

Building Successful Modern Arab Cities | Yasser Elsheshtawy | 25 Years of VCUarts Qatar

Yasser Elsheshtawy – adjunct professor of architecture at Columbia’s GSAPP and non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington – joins us on the Tasmeem Doha podcast to talk about his keynote speech from the conference “(Re)Constructing Urban Spaces: Unearthing the Palimpsest in Arabia”. This conversation delves into the concept of permanence and erasure in modern cities, looking individually at Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha and Riyadh as examples of modern urban spaces and realizations of our urban imaginaries. Thinking about cities as a culmination of societal and historic layers, Elsheshtawy shares insights on the lifecycles of cities, what we can learn from Dubai, and what he considers to be the most livable Arab City.

0:00 Introduction

00:58 “(Re)Constructing Urban Spaces: Unearthing the Palimpsest in Arabia”

3:29 Erasure & Layering in Cities

7:44 Reurbanization: Reimagining Cities in the Gulf

11:40 Dubai’s Urban Planning & Visions for the City

20:00 What We Can Learn from Dubai

24:00 Successful Modern Cities

27:05 Riyadh: Present and Future

42:15 Doha After the World Cup

45:48 Expatriates in the Gulf

51:09 Lifecycles of Cities

54:13 Most Livable Arab City

59:08 Book Recommendations

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.”

Connect with Yasser Elsheshtawy on Twitter 

Tasmeem Doha is a biennial international conference that focuses on unique and contemporary themes in art and design. For 2024, the theme of the event was “Under Construction”, which is both a metaphor for creative research as well as a celebration and investigation of transformation. It is also a state that Doha has found itself in for decades: a transformation that has presented an outsized impact on the residents of the city.

Theme music: Peninsular, Tarek Yamani 


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