CfP for WOCMES – Suburban Mobility in the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East

Pascal Menoret NYU Abu Dhabi & Harvard Academy - Panel proposal for WOCMES 2014 Ankara, August 18-22

Generally described as urbanization, city growth in the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East looks often more like a process of suburbanization. Long distances and low density characterize the newest neighborhoods of Riyadh, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait City, Cairo, Istanbul, and Algiers. Suburban landscapes are the visual outcome of various dynamics. They may be created by public intervention, private investment, or popular decision. They may feature individual houses, or collective buildings. They may cater to the downtrodden, or to the super-rich. They arguably are engines of city growth.

Mobility is central to the suburban experience. Transportation issues and poor connectivity are among the drawbacks of suburban growth. Yet suburbs attract mobile people: domestic and international migrants, impoverished residents and nouveaux riches may all be found on the outskirts of cities. In the Arabian Peninsula and in the Middle East, new metro lines open, cars are massively imported, and walking paths are designed inside and around cities. Private cars and public transit coexist and often collide with “softer” modes of transportation, including walking, biking, and popular (or “informal”) public transit (microbuses, collective taxis, rickshaws, etc.).

Participants in this panel look at suburban mobility in all its forms. They explore the practices of walking, biking, driving, and using various public transit options in Riyadh, Istanbul, Dubai, and Cairo. They take mobility as an object in itself, and as a lens into urban and suburban growth in the region. Write directly to Pascal at pm97@nyu.edu.  By the way, his book on Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt is just out!

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