Arab Gulf Cities in Transition: Space, Politics and Society

The cities in the Arab Gulf are developing in a fast and unprecedented way. The vast majority of the growing population of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are concentrated in these cities. While they are a focal point for immigration, they are unique spaces and places on various other levels, too: In many cases the Arab Gulf cities represent the exclusive political and economic centres of their countries; they consume a vast amount of energy; they have surpassed other Arab cities in their size and scale; their exponential growth is driven by diminishing fossil resources and, therefore, they have realised the urgent need to adopt sustainable development policies.

These and many other challenges play out in a limited urban territory. Urban Space is the playground for various actors to engage in this ongoing process of transformation; likewise, it is an important common denominator for territorial processes of political and social scale. Since these developments are increasingly interconnected, urban phenomena have repercussions on regional levels. Gearing them towards sustainability would contribute to stability and prosperity in the Gulf region. Urban and regional development policies need to be developed on the basis of GCC-wide recommendations. Understanding the urban dynamics of the Arab Gulf cities through the perspective of changing spatial practices contributes to the interdisciplinary development of Gulf Studies and becomes key for a holistic understanding of the GCC states.


Workshop Directors:


Dr. Veronika Deffner
Visiting Senior Research Fellow
Middle East Institute
National University of Singapore 


Aurel von Richthofen
Researcher and Module Coordinator
The Future Cities Laboratory
Singapore-ETH Centre


Zahra Babar
Associate Director
Research Center for International and Regional Studies
Georgetown University - Qatar 


Urban Oman Research

The research project “Towards Sustainable Patterns of Urbanization” founded by The Research Council Oman (TRC) has lead to various collaborations with other international academic institutions. As co-investigator on the project in Oman, I have been coordinating these exchanges and channeling them into significant contributions to the larger research project while providing the students with academic frame-work, access and exposure.

Urban Oman Exhibition

Exhibition on Urbanisation Patterns in Oman on display at GUtech, Hablan Campus from March 23rd to June 12th 2014.

ISU, Braunschweig

Aurel von Richthofen speaks on the topic of Urbanisation Patterns at the Gulf of Arabia. Guest lecture at the Institute for Sustainable Urbanism [ISU] in Braunschweig, Dec. 2012, lecture in German.

Scitech TV - Houses

Scitech TV documents the research project sponsored by the Research Council Oman "Towards Sustainable Patterns of Urbanisation in Oman" conducted by GUtech and SQU, featuring Aurel von Richthofen and Haitham Al Busafi as well as GUtech students.