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Cities Media Roundup (June 2017)

[A Donkey in the Casbah of Algiers] [A Donkey in the Casbah of Algiers]

[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]


A Alger, l’âne, “camion-poubelle” de la Casbah depuis cinq siècles Libération reports on the central role played by donkeys in the Casbah of Algeria, a World Heritage Site, and thousand-year-old city.

La ligne de bus Beyrouth-Tabarja approuvée par la commission des Travaux Publics L’Orient Le Jour reports on the approval of the Parliamentary Committee of Public Works and Energy and Water to build the fast-track bus project (BRT- Bus Rapid Transit), easing the traffic between Beirut and the north of Lebanon.

“Beirut is More Beautiful by Bike:” Street Art Reinvents a Notorious City—In Pictures Naomi Larsson reports for The Guardian on the evolving bike-unfriendly reputation of Lebanon’s capital in a photo essay.

En Tunisie, la guerre des trottoirs est déclarée Frédéric Bobin reports for Le Monde on the campaign that denounces the illegal uses and activity on the sidewalks of Tunisia entitled, “Winou Etrottoir” (“Where is the sidewalk?”).


Successive Lebanese Governments, EU Must be tried for Ecocide Nadine Mazloum reports for Newsroom Nomad on the approaching ecological catastrophe, and pressing environmental issues that threaten food, water and air supplies in Lebanon.

1,400 Tons of Toxic Waste Dumped Daily in Burj Hammoud Blog Baladi shares a video by the Lebanese Transparency Association, which reveals aerial images of the illegal waste dumping at Burj Hammoud, Lebanon.

Le navire prend l’eau et les capitaines en profitent Élias Azzi reports for L’Orient Le Jour on the mismanagement of waste treatment and disposal in Beirut, and its financial consequences.

À travers les décharges, une renaissance de Linord? Élias Azzi examines waste management in Beirut retrospectively, to understand the reluctance of authorities to prolong landfill life and implement waste management plans in a report for L’Orient Le Jour.

La forêt de pins du Bois de Boulogne, au Metn, est-elle en danger? Suzanne Baaklini reports for L’Orient Le Jouron the changes in zoning and land use regulations, which threaten the Cedar forest in Bsharri, north of Lebanon.

Rise in Sandstorms Threaten Middle East and North Africa Kieran Cooke reports for Middle East Eye on the need for regional cooperation to quell the harmful and costly effects of sandstorms in the MENA region.

Alexandria’s Vanishing Sea Shore Nahla El Nemr reports for Zenith on the rapid privatization of Alexandria’s Corniche, and modernization of the city. The Egyptian public responds to such changes with resistance, as it fights to preserve public space and architectural heritage, due to a loss of a sense of ownership of the city.

Gabès: “La petite Tchernobyl de Tunisie” revendique son droit de vivre Zoé Vernin reports for Vues d’Europe et d’ailleurs on the ecological catastrophe of the city of Gabes, in Tunisia, which contains the largest industrial zone in the country, and the highest levels of industrial pollution.

Justice environnementale et mouvements sociaux en Tunisie Zoé Vernin reports for Vues d’Europe et d’ailleurs on the direct link between the environmental issues and social and economic inequalities in Tunisia, by examining its diverse environmental movements.

Accès à l’eau en Tunisie: quelles disparités? Mohsen Kalboussi analyzes data on access to drinking water in Tunisia based on the results of the latest consensus, focusing on the disparities between rural and urban areas, as well as regions, governorates and delegations, in a report for Nawaat.

Sfax: “Fermons l’usine pour développer la ville” Zoé Vernin reports for Vues d’Europe et d’ailleurs on the ‘Fermons la SIAPE’ movement in Sfax, Tunisia, protesting against the pollution generated by the Industrial Corporation of Phosphoric Acid and Fertilizers (SIAPE).

Couscous, Capitalism and Neocolonialism in Tunisia Belen Fernandez positively reviews the documentary "Couscous: Seeds of Dignity" by Tunisian geographer and academic Habib Ayeb, which addresses issues relating to food sovereignty in Tunisia from the ground up.

Cities and Conflict

War in Cities: The “Reverberating Effects” of Explosive Weapons Isabel Robinson and Ellen Nohle report for Humanitarian Law & Policy on the "reverberating effects" and devastating humanitarian impact of the use of explosive weapons in armed attacks, and populated areas. 

Solar Solution Brings Water to Besieged Syria Town Hasan Mohammed reports for Your Middle East on the makeshift generators built in the besieged Syrian town, Douma, which are used to draw water from communal water tanks, and supply local schools and mosques.

Vivre à Gaza avec trois heures d’électricité par jour Piotr Smolar reports for Le Monde on the energy crisis of Gaza due to dissension between Hamas and the President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas.

A Palestinian’s Daily Commute Through an Israeli Checkpoint William Booth and Sufian Taha trace the daily route of early-morning commuters through Israel’s checkpoint in a report for The Washington Post.

Life in a Septic Tank Sarah Algherbawi reports for The Electronic Intifada on the worsening environmental problems and living conditions of the Gaza Strip, which range from electronic shortages to pollution. 

What You Need to Know About Urban War Trevor Keck reflects on the devastating urban wars and suffering that erupted in the Middle East in recent years, and their major violations to the basic rules of international humanitarian law in an article for International Committee of the Red Cross.

La Jordanie et les réfugiés syriens Kamel Doraï reports for La Vie des idées on the future of Syrian refugees, and Jordan, the country of refuge successively for the Palestinians, the Iraqis, and now the Syrians, despite its lack of a national asylum system.

Urban Planning 

How Alexandria’s “Leaning Tower” Became an Emblem of the City’s Corruption When the 13-storey tower block toppled at Azarita in Alexandria, it exposed the problems at the heart of the construction industry in a country where 400 residential buildings collapse each year.

Thanks to Corruption and Cronyism, Egypt’s Buildings Are Collapsing Mariam Elba reports for Muftah on the corruption and cronyism that dictate Egypt’s construction industry.

Safe as Houses Ahmed Morsy reports for Al-Ahram Weekly on the demolition process initiated by the governorate of Alexandria, which seeks to eradicate illegal buildings deemed unsafe or prone to collapse.

Economic Reform Raises Housing Costs to Catastrophic Level Mohamed Gad reports for The Built Environment Observatory on the devastating impact of the 2016 economic reforms on real estate and housing costs in Egypt.

The $1.4 Billon Bet on a New Palestinian Future William Booth reports for The Washington Post on Rawabi, the first planned city in the West Bank built by Palestinians for Palestinians.

Le plaidoyer de Jad Tabet “pour un changement par la base…” Sandra Noujeim reports for L’Orient Le Jour on the 2017 agenda for urban development and planning in Lebanon, as designed by Jad Tabet, the head of the Order of Engineers and Architects of Beirut.

The Heart of Lebanon’s Rural Darkness Bassel Salloukh reports for The New Arab on Lebanon’s neglected rural areas, and their lack of any state symbols and institutions due to decades of infrastructural state neglect. He assesses the effect of this neglect on Beirut’s long-term development and future in light of its political economy and sectarian system.

Local Governance

A Shubra Epic of Solidarity Khaled Hanafi Ali reports for Al-Ahram Weekly on the changes in the demographic and architectural landscape of the Cairo district of Shubra, and its struggle to retain a social legacy of solidarity.

Professionalizing Local Administration in al-Minya Tadamun reports on the growth and success of the physical planning consultancy unit that was established in the al-Minyā governorate in 2005, and the positive development in Egypt’s notorious local administration.  

Ornamentation Projects in Idlib Begin with the Reparation of the City Clock Enab Baladi reports on the restorative efforts made in the city of Idlib, to improve gardens and public spaces by the “Violet” organization, in cooperation with the city council, and the adornment projects that ensued in Syria.

Getting Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Right in Cities Henda Gafsi reports for Association de Professionnels de AdP on the joint effort of the Tunisian government and the International Centre of Development for Innovative Local Governance to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in Tunisia.

Entrepreneur Turns Beirut Slums Into Vast Canvas John Owens reports for VOA News in a video on “Ouzville” an initiative established by Ayad Nasser, which aims to beautify the southern slums of Beirut, Ouzai.


New Report: Urban Uncertainty: Governing Cities in Turbulent Times LSE Cities conducts a study on the uncertain futures of cities, in efforts to conceptualize uncertainty, and better understand how, and with what effects uncertainty interacts with and shapes urban life.

New Report: GOLD Report IV Global Observatory on Local Democracy and Decentralization (GOLD) releases the fourth edition of their GOLD Reports, which examines the challenges and issues that local and regional governments face in the current urban age, and suggests solutions for the creation of sustainable, inclusive and safe cities for the future.

New Report: What About the People? The Socially Sustainable, Resilient Community and Urban Development Cathy Baldwin and Robin King explore the relationship between urban built environments and “pro-community” behaviors, and physiological responses in twelve countries in the global north and south.  

New Report: Gouvernance de l’eau en Tunisie Raoudha Gafrej releases a report for International Alert on Water Governance in Tunisia.

CFP: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung: From Neoliberal to Socially-Just Reconstruction Expert Workshop “The Role of Civil Society in Shaping Post-Conflict Reconstruction Policies in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya” (Beirut, 19-20 September 2017). Deadline: 2 July 2017.

CEDEJ’s Monthly Press Review on Cities in Egypt is published.

Review: Roundtable on Laws Protecting Built Heritage, Alexandria, 4-6 June 2017 CEDEJ reports on the roundtable they hosted on public policies for heritage preservation in collaboration with the Swedish Institute of Alexandria.

Exhibition: Falling is Not Collapsing, Falling is Extending Marwa Arsanios addresses the threatening long-term transformations brought upon by capitalism, and its reverberations on Lebanon’s environmental and sociopolitical reality in an exhibition at the Beirut Art Center, from 28 June to 29 September 2017.

Recently on Jadaliyya Cities

Life in a Street: How Informal Mechanisms Govern Scarce Public Spaces in Nabaa, Beirut Through the case of Nabaa (Bourj Hammoud) in Beirut, Petra Samaha studies the complex informal mechanisms of conflict resolution and space recollection that street users in dense informal areas deploy in their everyday life.

A Lyrical Cruise in Tunis Lana Salman recounts her pre-dissertation fieldwork notes, and her initial thoughts and mis/understandings of Tunisia.

Municipal Politics in Lebanon Ziad Abu-Rish addresses Lebanon’s shifting constellations of power, and historical legacies of institution building, to identify the place of municipalities within that history.

Des bidonvilles aux villes de béton: une somme sur l’évolution urbaine d’Alger Eric Verdeil reviews the book of Rachid Sidi Boumedine Bétonvilles contre bidonvilles. Cent ans de bidonvilles à Alger, published in 2016.  

New Texts Out Now: Michèle Jolé, Turkish History of the Institute of Urban Planning in Paris. Students from 1919 to 1969 Jadaliyya Cities interviews Michèle Jolé on her new book Histoire turque de l’Institut d’urbanisme de Paris. 

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