From souqs to emporiums: The urban transformation of Abu Dhabi

Yasser Elsheshtawy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper in its first part aims at contextualizing Abu Dhabi's urban development and understanding the factors that have governed its urban growth through a historical case study approach. Relying on archival records and primary sources five stages of urban growth are identified. Data mining of media archives allows for a first hand account of developments taking place thus grounding the depictions. The second part contextualizes this review through a case study of the Central Market project - also known as Abu Dhabi's World Trade Center. The paper concludes by elaborating on the significance of such a historical analysis as it shifts the discourse away from a focus on the 'artificiality' of cities in the Gulf to one that is based on a recognition about the historicity of its urban centers, however recent it may be. Additionally the pertinence of such an analysis for cities worldwide is discussed as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-69
Number of pages12
JournalOpen House International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Abu Dhabi
  • Central Market
  • Urban history
  • Urban planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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