Gulf Research Meeting 2012

This urban form is at the same time the “result” of demographic and economic constraints and the cultural “product” of careful negotiation and aesthetic politics. e urban form, manifested in an expansive urban sprawl, radically and irreversibly changes the environment in which the majority of the Omanis live. ese circumstances condition the production of visual culture. e emergence of visual culture through the deployment of urbanism is far from coincidental, and yet distinctively Omani, as the process sets itself apart from the ashy development in other GCC countries.

Less exhibitionist in nature than in the neighboring Emirates, Oman’s urban form is nonetheless developing at an alarming rate. At a population of merely two million inhabitants, more than 130,000 new applications have been led for plots in Oman in 2009 alone. Most applications aspire to the principle of the free-standing villa, a building type that stands diametrically opposed to social habits, environmental and climatic responsibility and, ultimately traditional Omani culture. is new (sub-) urban form represents a continuous urban landscape, turning the individual houses into exchangeable pieces of a nation-wide ornament.

The paper was published as: von Richthofen, Aurel. 2016. “Visualizing Urban Form as Mass Ornament in Muscat Capital Area.” In Visual Culture(s) in the Gulf: An Anthology, edited by Nadia Mounajjed, 137–58. GRC Books. Cambridge: Gulf Research Centre.


Exeter Gulf Conference 2012

EXETER, Jul. 2012, Venue: Exeter Gulf Conference, Organizer: Center for Gulf Studies – university of Exeter. Title of the paper presented: “Integrated Tourism Projects and the impact of urbanization in Oman.”

Gulf Research Meeting 2011

Present day Muscat Capital Area (MCA) developed over the last four decades. It is the largest urban development in Oman and characterized by a rapid urban sprawl. While many cities in the Gulf Region witnessed intense urbanization in the late 20th century until today, the results in MCA are surprisingly different.

ArchTheo conference 2011

ISTANBUL, Nov. 2011, Venue: ArchTheo conference, Organizer: DAKAM – Eastern Mediterranean Academic Research Center – Mimar Sinan Fine Arte university Title of the paper presented: “urbanization in Oman.”

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.

Architectural Design Days Jeddah

JEDDAH, Oct. 2012 , Venue: Architectural Design Days, Jeddah, Organizer: AIA – Middle East. Title of the paper presented: “Sustainable urban planning and civic participation – The Mutrah Master Planning and Redevelopment Project”

GUtech lecture series

MUSCAT, Mar. 2013, Venue: GUtech, lecture series. Organizer: Dept of urban Planning and Architectural Design. Title of the paper presented: Dr. Sonja Nebel & Aurel von Richthofen: “Progress report TRC project: Towards Sustainable Patterns of urbanization.”