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Cities Media Roundup (April 2017)

[A view of Beirut by Benutzer:Robysan via Wikimedia Commons] [A view of Beirut by Benutzer:Robysan via Wikimedia Commons]

[This is a monthly roundup of news articles, and other materials related to urban issues in the region, and beyond. It does not reflect the views of the Cities Page Editors or of Jadaliyya. You may send recommendations for inclusion in the Cities Media Roundup to, mentioning “Roundup” in the subject line. We also welcome your submissions to the Cities Page: please check details on]

Environment, Infrastructure and Governance

24/7 Water Supply in Beirut: Fantasy or Reality? As climate change leads to a decrease in the volume of available water in Lebanon, a challenge made more difficult by the unforeseen influx of more than a million Syrian refugees, the World Bank Group explores ways to manage and increase Beirut’s water supply, most notably repairing leakages.

Reportage à Redeyef: Derrière les coupures d’eau, les horizons bouchés du phosphate Diane Robert conducts a report for Nawaa on the quality of drinking water in Redeyef, Tunisia, and its flawed distribution.

Costa Brava: la décision en appel se fait attendre Journalist Claude Assaf reports for L’Orient-Le Jour on the court’s decision to delay the hearings against the closure of the Costa Brava dump in Beirut.

Beyrouth: lie double avec vue sur mer French Journalist Mélanie Houé reports for Libération on the controversy over the closure of the Bourj Hammoud dump in Beirut.

Mapping Where the Lights Are Brighter, and Where They’re Going Dark CityLab reports on the impact of urbanization, economics and war on the satellite’s view of the Earth at night. 

Conflict and Urban Protest

Skeleton Cities and Snipers: The Shocking Photographs that Show the Scale of Syria’s Loss From the shelled-out mall that never opened to a family reclaiming their possessions from rubble, Pulitzer-winning photographer Sergey Ponomarev captured Syria’s tragedy from the inside. 

Arab Protests Move Back to the Streets From Social Media Habib Battah reports for Al-Fanar Media on the annual City Debates conference at the American University of Beirut, which critically examined gentrification in Arab cities, and gave voice to the growing battle between activists and the ruling elites over urban space.

L’évolution récente de la population Turque à l’échelle des départements, d’après les dernières données officielles Jean-François Pérouse and Pascal Lebouteiller analyze changes in demographic trends in Turkey in a report for OpenEdition, which reflect an immediate reaction to the political upheavals in 2015.

La campagne du référendum d’avril 2017 à Istanbul: Une lutte visuelle urbaine Florain Fiquet reports for OpenEdition on the diverse spatiality of electoral campaigning by the Turkish parties in Istanbul.

Esquisse de géographie électorale des résultats du référendum du 16 avril 2017 dans le département d’Istanbul Jean-François Pérouse maps the electoral geography of the constitutional referendum in Istanbul in a report for OpenEdition.

Urban Mobility and Transport 

Egypt Doubles Ticket Price on Cairo Metro, Angering Commuters Euronews reports on the public outrage over the increase in ticket prices in the Cairo metro.

Urban Mobility in Cairo: Governance and Planning Tadamun examines the complex interactions that shape urban mobility in Cairo, in an attempt to create a better understanding of the institutional structure of urban transport in the Greater Cairo Region and the problems that arise from the current institutional configuration.

La tarification des transports en commun dans les villes méditerranéennes Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) examines the collective public transportation system in Tunisia, highlighting the need for a new tariff policy.

Urban Planning and Heritage

In Palestine, European Diplomats and Officials All Have the Blues Sylvain Cypel reports for Orient XXI on the administrative obstacles and “Potemkin Village” policies created by Israel that hinder the Jericho free zone in the Jordan Valley, a project financed by the European Union, aimed at promoting Palestine’s economic development. 

Decree 66: The Blueprint for Al-Assad’s Reconstruction of Syria? With violence in Syria ongoing and hitting new lows, rebuilding the devastated country might seem premature. Tom Rollins reports for IRIN on Syrian president Bashar Al-Asad’s plan to engineer demographic change through urban planning in a bid to consolidate his power.

Au Liban, un village bling-bling construit avec l’argent du Nigeria Par Chloé Domat reports for Le Monde Afrique on the Miziara village, north of Lebanon, which bases its income off real estate projects in Western Africa.

L’itinéraire des projets d’immobiliers résedentiels de Maslak á Ayazağa Filiz Hervet reports for the Observatoire Urbain D’Istanbul (OUI) on the housing and residential megaprojects in Istanbul, which dominate the urban landscape and metropolis.

Istiklâl, drôle de rue 2--Espace sonore Etienne Copeaux reports for Overblog on the changes in Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue soundscape.

Charting the Beirut Seafront’s Future: An Open Letter to the City Council Activist and urban planning professor Mona Fawaz calls on Beirut’s elected municipal city council to regulate more proactively development along the city coast in order to recover public access to the seafront. 

إعادة إعمار بيروت في بداية الألفية الثانية The Legal Agenda studies the shifts in the Lebanese cityscape, and the reconstruction and urban development of Beirut, since the end of the Lebanese civil war.

Archaeologists Plan Post-Islamic-State Future in Iraq Edward Fox reports for Al-Fanar Media on the agenda for the future of archaeological work in areas held by Da’esh in Iraq, who deliberately demolish remains of the non-Islamic past.

A Bullet-Riddled Mansion, A Beirut Architect Envisions a Museum of Memory Alice Fordham reports for National Public Radio (NPR) on architect Mona El Hallak’s plan to transform the Beirut mansion into a museum, and relic of the Lebanese civil war. 


Refugees’ Impact on Job Market Unclear The Daily Star explores the link between the influx of one to 1.5 million Syrian refugees on Lebanese unemployment, arguing that there is little hard data to support or refute the claim that refugees are taking Lebanese jobs in significant numbers.

Au Liban, la grogne monte face á la concurrence des commerces syriens Philippe Hage Boutros reports for L’Orient Le Jour on the growing anger of Lebanese traders over Syrian merchants, and the attempts made to limit the employment of Syrian workers in Lebanon. 

UN Resistance Threatens Effective Aid to Syrian Refugees As UN agencies block reforms to streamline aid to Syrian refugees, Owen Barder of the Center for Global Development outlines why donors should designate a single delivery agency to manage cash payments to each eligible refugee.

Why Jobs in Special Economic Zones Won’t Solve the Problems Facing the World’s Refugees Heaven Crawley questions the premise of a new book in which the authors call on politicians to reorient the refugee system away from humanitarian assistance towards development through the creation of jobs within special economic zones, arguing that that the authors engage only partially with the complex political and economic realities facing the world’s refugees.

Towards Stabilization: The Role of Local Governance in Conflict Management An article by Maria Chalhoub of the Common Space Initiative in the first edition of the new Syrian Echoes newsletter, a Syrian collective effort galvanized by international cooperation working on conflict resolution in Syria that aims to keep Syrian voices at the forefront of the peace-building process.

IMAR Reconstruction The fourth edition of the Syria-focused Urban Research Center’s report monitoring the progress in Syria’s reconstruction process and its related projects, and the current status of infrastructure.


CEDEJ’s monthly press review on Cities in Egypt is out now.

New Report: Egypt’s Resilient and Evolving Social Activism Amr Hamzawy studies social activism in Egypt in light of the decline of party politics for Carnegie Middle East Center, offering the greatest hope for pushing back against repression and the restoration of pluralism. 

New Report: Horsh Beirut Urban Park, Lebanon Environmental Justice Atlas critically examines the case of Horsh Beirut, the largest park of the capital, which is threatened today by the ongoing construction of a field hospital inside the park, although laws and zoning regulations strictly prohibit any kind of construction.

New Report: USRA Annotated Bibliography February 2017 report prepared by the Common Space Initiative with the support of the European Commission and UN-Habitat.

New Report: Notes Techniques no°23, Évaluation de la politique d’aménagement du territoire en Tunisie de 1995 à 2010 Agence Française de Développement (AFD) conducts an evaluation on spatial planning in Tunisia from 1995 to 2010 in a new report.

New Website: Urban Projects Finance Initiative New website for the UPFI, which supports and finances sustainable urban projects in the southern and eastern Mediterranean,

CFP: 18th N-AERUS Conference “What Urban in a Hyper-Connected Global South” (Milan, 14-16 September 2017), Deadline: 5 June 2017.

Recently on Jadaliyya

Diyarbakir: The Heart of this City Beats in Suriçi Semsa Özar narrates the destruction threats on Suriçi, and the dwellers' opposition to reconstruction, underscoring how the Turkish state is using urban policies to "change this city into something that it is not, and establish its absolute rule."

New Texts Out Now: Toufoul Abou-Hodeib, A Taste for Home: The Modern Middle Class in Modern Ottoman Beirut Toufoul Abou-Hodeib discusses her recent book which examines the cultural history of the middle-class home in late Ottoman Beirut with emphasis on its material aspect.

Arabian Tragedy, or Noir? Waleed Hazbun reviews Farah Al-Nakib’s Kuwait Transformed: A History of Oil and Urban Life.

يم القاهرة Ibrahim Mahfouz reads the contemporary landscape of Cairo and links the dull facade of the city and its dichotomies to the harsh cycles of capital, which results in the eradication of vestiges of Cairo on the brink of annihilation. 

Jerusalem: A City for All? Visualizing Palestine releases an infographic on the 2020 municipal plan for Jerusalem, uncovering the complex web of discriminatory Israeli policies and practices.

مدن: آلتا Azhar Jirjees poetically narrates her journey to asylum in Alta, Norway as an Iraqi refugee.

Straight Lines Haider Shahbaz studies the objective documentation of artifacts in exhibitions and art galleries, and looks critically at their ignorance of the social and political implications of disorder, in their attempt to bring order to tragedy by installing objects in neat patterns.


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