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Title: Urban sustainability and transforming culture in the Arabian Gulf : the case of Bahrain
Author: Al Khalifa, Fay
ISNI:       0000 0004 5366 4716
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2015
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The deserted towns of the Arabian Gulf States were transformed at the beginning of the 20th century into developed cities a few years after the sudden growth in wealth, following the unearthing of oil, one of the main contributors to the transformation of cultures around the world. The effects of the sudden wealth have been a subject of curiosity and concern for many years. Nevertheless, limited attention has been given to the relationship between cultural transformation and urban sustainability in the Arabian Gulf States despite the vast environmental concerns the Gulf is facing today. This sudden urban transformation was argued to be a reflection of the parallel cultural transformation. Limited empirical evidence supports such claims. The study undertaken in this research attempts to investigate this relationship between cultural change and urban sustainability in the Arabian Gulf. The thrust of this study further focuses on Bahrain, the only urban archipelago in the Arabian Gulf. Oil was introduced to the region through its discovery in Bahrain in 1931. Nevertheless, today Bahrain enjoys the least amount of resources in the area including water, food and oil, which drives the government to explore alternative sources for the economy and aspire to economic diversification. Bahrain today faces some environmental challenges and is also the smallest and densest of the Arabian Gulf states, which makes the argument of urban sustainability of particular importance. The research attempts to examine the role of the government in preventing or stimulating urban sustainability by focusing on the work of some governmental organisations concerned with the built environment. The study aspires to first explore the social, cultural, environmental, economic and political mechanisms behind the formation of Bahrain’s urbanism and to investigate the forces that contributed to the development of the phenomenon of cultural transformation. It then aims to examine the transformed culture of Bahrain and to assess the role of the existing culture in the development of urban sustainability in Bahrain. Finally, it intends to put forward a sustainable urban regeneration strategy consisting of a set of recommendations for Bahrain today and for a future urbanism that focuses on all aspects of sustainability. The research uses a qualitative approach and a case study strategy by employing different methods of data collection and analysis. The methods include archival resources, comprising political reports and intelligence summaries of the British political officers and American missionaries in the Gulf, in addition to recent and historical maps and national governmental strategies, laws, and regulation. It also includes two sets of semi-structured interviews. The first, with academics and key officials working in different organisations concerned with the built environment, and the second, with foreign consultants and key officials who are working on three future mega urban development projects around Bahrain. The study assisted in building knowledge about the effects of cultural change on urban sustainability in the Arabian Gulf or any other similar situation. The research resulted in an analysis of the notion of cultural change in the Arabian Gulf States, its causes and its consequences for the sustainability of the urban environment and lifestyle of people living in the Gulf today. Furthermore, it resulted in a redefining of “urban sustainability” that is relevant for the Arabian Gulf context to guide future research in the area. The study also investigated the understandings of academics and officials of the notions of cultural change and urban sustainability, which assisted along with other sources in outlining the different challenges facing urban sustainability in Bahrain today. Additionally, the research investigated the sustainability of three new mega urban development projects and concluded with a set of recommendations for the government to assist in informing decision makers and ensuring a more sustainable urban future for Bahrain. The research adds to the universal debates on urban sustainability by focusing on the urban environments of the less articulated region of the Arabian Gulf.
Supervisor: Dempsey, Nicola Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available