Searching for Nasser Square: An urban center in the heart of Dubai

Yasser Elsheshtawy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Does Dubai have a space that encapsulates its transformation from a small fishing village to a major urban center? A center that is a microcosm for the city's urban growth and transformation? This paper details the search for this space, which began upon my arrival in the UAE in 1996. Only equipped with a brief note from an Egyptian compatriot that I need to seek Maidan Gamal Abd el Nasser, this quest led me to Nasser Square. Known officially as Baniyas Square, I will recount its origins and how it ultimately represents the story of Dubai's emergence. The depiction will be conducted through an analysis of historical records (archival photographs, travelogues and media reports), informal observations and interviews with square users as well as mapping its current state. My aim is to situate Dubai within the discourse of globalizing cities by highlighting the quotidian aspects of its urban settings. This would demonstrate the extent to which the city has been a response to, and interacts with, what Michael Peter-Smith describes as ‘globalization from below', a form of transnational urbanism witnessing the interaction of multiple actors facilitated by the particular configuration of these spaces. Such a depiction would move the discourse concerning cities in the Gulf region from one that focuses on their rapid rise and spectacular architecture, to one that highlights their unique contribution to urbanization and urban theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)746-759
Number of pages14
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2 2014


  • Dubai
  • Nasser Square
  • globalization
  • public space
  • urban design
  • urban history
  • urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Searching for Nasser Square: An urban center in the heart of Dubai'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this