Challenges and opportunities for participatory planning approaches within Dubai’s urban context

Khaled Alawadi, Sarah Dooling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Dubai has been in the midst of a profound physical transformation, radically affecting the lives of residents and newcomers. Within US and European models of planning, the rapid change Dubai is experiencing calls for public involvement in charting the city’s future. However, Dubai’s neo-patrimonial governance concentrates planning decisions into the hands of trusted elites, lacking public participation. How might a participatory approach to planning be successfully implemented in Dubai? First, this article applies Delphi to obtain experts’ knowledge about the feasibility of implementing a participatory planning approach in Dubai. Second, the first author interviewed government officials to identify constraints for implementing strategies intended to widen public participation. Last, recommendations for the implementation of a more transparent approach to planning are provided. The article concludes with questions that explore the challenges associated with participation in planning decision-making specifically for neo-patrimonial systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-301
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Urbanism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • governance
  • neo-patrimonial
  • public participation
  • sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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