The Egyptian military regime of Abd al-Fattah el-Sisi has announced as part of its Vision 2030 its intention to eliminate informal urban areas. The regime has identified these areas – commonly known by the Arabic term ‘ashwa’iyyat (which means haphazard) – as a threat to the nation. The Egyptian state, however, has no clear conception of what urban informality constitutes or what exactly it is eradicating. To understand how and why the state has placed urban informality as central to its politics, I contend that we have to examine the political processes through which this uncertain yet powerful concept is produced. Urban informality, I argue, is a political intervention that is always fleeting and geographically specific in an otherwise haphazard context. Haphazard urbanisation points to the complex power struggles by a range of actors, both within and beyond the state, through which the formal and informal divide can mark urban life. In a critical reading of the first major study of informality in Egypt, I show how the urban was divided into the formal and informal through outdated laws. I detail, by engaging sources in English and Arabic, how the Egyptian state militarised urban informality from the 1990s onwards. I argue that it is through this historical framing that we must understand el-Sisi’s current war against urban informality. In turn, I argue that the regime’s attempt to eliminate informality has not resulted in greater control over what and how urban informality appears but has deepened the hazardisation of urban life.
The Gaza Strip is one of the most beleaguered environments on earth. Crammed into a space of 139 square miles (360 square kilometers), 1.8 million people live under an Israeli siege, enforcing conditions that continue to plummet to ever more unimaginable depths of degradation and despair. Gaza, however, is more than an endless encyclopedia of depressing statistics. It is also a place of fortitude, resistance, and imagination; a context in which inhabitants go to remarkable lengths to create the ordinary conditions of the everyday and to reject their exceptional status. Inspired by Gaza's inhabitants, this book builds on the positive capabilities of Gazans. It brings together environmentalists, planners, activists, and scholars from Palestine and Israel, the US, the UK, India, and elsewhere to create hopeful interventions that imagine a better place for Gazans and Palestinians. Open Gaza engages the Gaza Strip within and beyond the logics of siege and warfare, it considers how life can be improved inside the limitations imposed by the Israeli blockade, and outside the idiocy of violence and warfare.
In Lebanon, there has been a furious and continuing debate over how the reconstruction, with the urban development corporation Solidere at its core, has been undertaken. In the course of the 2019 protests–what many Lebanese are calling a revolution–and the economic implosion in 2020, the Solidere project that led the national reconstruction process continues to occupy a central place of contestation in the nation. For many in the country, the reconstruction that ostensibly followed the Ta’if Peace Accord has left its own scars of violence and dispossession on the country’s inhabitants. This paper reconceptualises the idea of reconstruction as something that happens in the aftermath of conflict. It traces how the construction of the built environment can also be part of conflict. In so doing, this essay illuminates how in Lebanon the reconstruction process was embedded within the dynamics of the Civil War and one that also exceeds it. The reconstruction was not a process that emerged in the aftermath of the conflict but fully embedded within it. Lebanon’s reconstruction involved the consolidation of social power by a narrow elite and urban violence in both periods of open conflict and peace.
an explosion . The building’s ruin is not by conflict but reconstruction, the planned detonation of dynamite at the structures foundation . A large cloud of dust rises from the collapsed building and the screen is engulfed in the fog of reconstruction . In Lebanon, the fogs of war and reconstruction have at times been difficult to distinguish .
The Middle East is one of the most urbanized and urbanizing regions in the world. The proliferation of urban megaprojects, skyscrapers, gated communities, retail malls, airports, ports and highways continues unabated. From 2006 to 2016, cement production almost doubled in the region’s major cement producing countries, such as Saudi Arabia (from 27 to 61 million tons), Egypt (29 to 55 million) and Turkey (47 to 77 million).  The majority of production is aimed at domestic markets. Saudi Arabia from 2008 to 2016 even banned the export of cement to ensure lower domestic prices for the government’s large infrastructure projects.
September 29th, 2015
Constellations: Searching for the Global Suburb
November 20th, 2013
Beware of Small Cities
September 6th, 2012
Urbanism and the Arab Uprising: Downtown Cairo and the fall of Mubarak
[Translated into Arabic]
August 6th [September 6th] 2012
The End(s) of Stability
May 8th, 2012
Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution
by David Harvey
Dubai: The City as Corporation
by Ahmed Kanna
All Content Copyright Deen Sharp 2018