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A Tale of Two SOUQS: The Paradox of Gulf Urban Diversity

Ali A. Alraouf (Urban Planning, College of Arts and Sciences, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar)

Open House International

ISSN: 0168-2601

Article publication date: 1 June 2012


The paper discusses current trends and future developments in the study of people-urban environment relations, with an emphasis on the concept of diversity within the Gulf cities. This is explored in relation to: theoretical approaches, urban public spaces, people's lifestyles, social groups and inclusive urban environments. Contemporary Gulf cities are providing unique examples for research on urban diversity. Its demographic structure is distinctive for a minimum of 50% expatriates in overall population. Gulf cities are obliged to cope with such a compelling fact. The challenge is to move away from indifference and bring about better acceptance of others. On the relationship; city spaces and culture, the paper argues that traditional markets must be envisioned as spaces for cultural expressions. Traditional markets are a rich display of products and talents and a great opportunity to share and meet with people from same culture and others. Using comparative analysis approach juxtapositioning the selected cases, the paper confronts questions like what does Gulf urban diversity mean in the present. In addition, is diversity in urban spaces only a challenge to be dealt with or is there also economic potential that can be taken advantage of? How do we ensure that Gulf cities are indeed spaces of tolerance? How to give visibility to the spaces of marginalized groups, as these spaces are often ignored or worse, eliminated? How to preserve or regain spaces in the city for the expression of traditional cultures of those migrating from other regions or countries? The paper explores the socioeconomic and cultural mechanisms that can encourage inclusive pluralism in the Gulf cities' open spaces.



Alraouf, A.A. (2012), "A Tale of Two SOUQS: The Paradox of Gulf Urban Diversity", Open House International, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 72-81.



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