Urbanisation in Qatar : a study of the residential and commercial land development in Doha city, 1970-1997
The state of Qatar provides an interesting illustration of a nation that has recently witnessed spectacular urban development worthy of investigation. Indeed, during the past three decades huge oil revenues have enabled the country to embark on unprecedented national development. The main thrust of this research study is urbanisation and urban development in Qatar and the impact this phenomenon has had on the urban growth of its capital city, Doha. This study sets out to examine a set of issues caused by the urbanisation process within the framework of urban growth and land use development. The present study examines urbanisation and its impact on the city development in the Arab Gulf states (GCC) in general and in Qatar in particular. The main objective of the study has been to trace the influence these changes have had on the general growth of the city and the land uses particularly the residential and commercial land development with particular emphasis on the political and socio-economic factors which form the main thrust of this research. In addition, the examination of the emerging urbanisation phenomenon has aimed to establish the necessary background before dealing with the topic at the scale of the capital city. Following these objectives, the study has adopted a combined approach, which can be described as historical and empirical. The historical setting provides the changing nature of urbanisation in the Gulf States (GCC) and Qatar by establishing the evolution of this phenomenon until the present time. This is clearly done through defining the evolutionary periods reflecting the urban development stages, which included two distinctive phases: the traditional (pre-oil period) and modern/contemporary periods. The empirical/analytical part focuses especially on the city of Doha with respect to its recent urban development, socio-economic characteristics and the changing land use patterns of which the residential and commercial development represents one of the most rapidly growing and changing land use types that took place in a relatively short period (1970-1997). Clearly, the empirical research begins by investigating the socio-economic and physical features of the city. The analysis points out the enormous scale of development that occurred in the city benefiting largely from massive urban development plans engendered by the remarkable growth of the country's oil economy. Subsequently, the research separately examines additional dimensions pertinent to the residential and commercial land development. The findings show to what extent the growth of the city has influenced the emerging patterns of land use that were drastically changed. Also, the findings always reveal the existence of a strong correlation between the overall economic performance of the country and the changing residential and commercial uses. Indeed, the economic and social transformations of Qatar have resulted in new emerging patterns that were utterly unknown before the advent of oil. The thesis presents this research topic in three main parts. The first consists of two chapters, which introduce the methodology and approaches adopted by the study and the theoretical aspects relevant to urbanisation, urban development and urban internal structure along with definitions and concepts as well as previous studies done for Qatar. The second part includes three chapters, which deal with urbanisation in the GCC and Qatar. Chapter three provides an historical perspective of urbanisation and urban development pertaining to the Arab Gulf States. Chapter four presents an in-depth analysis of urbanisation and urban development in Qatar. This is followed by another chapter, which exclusively deals with the overall characteristics of population in Qatar. Part three of the thesis is entirely concerned with the city of Doha. It is divided into five chapters. Chapter six is concerned with the evolution and development of Doha; its changing demographic aspects and the factors affecting the population structure of the city are examined in chapter seven. The remaining three chapters of this part (8,9 & 10) deal with the city's land use development in general and with the residential and the commercial land development in particular. For this purpose, chapter eight investigates the overall characteristics relevant to land use in the city. The central aim is to establish an objective understanding of the evolution of land uses, the major factors influencing their development and the present distribution patterns over the 1980-1997 period. The latter analytical stage involves examining the emerging patterns of the residential land development in an attempt to explore the changing patterns and the housing characteristics. In the third analytical phase, the analysis proceeds to consider the changing patterns of the commercial development within the city. A final summary of the findings, conclusion of the study and suggestions for future research are provided in chapter eleven.