Urban conservation in practice: Evidence from the United Arab Emirates

Mahmoud Haggag, Ahmed Rashed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has had a rapid urban development since their establishment in 1971. This growth is having a great impact on the few historic urban areas. During the last decade, massive conservation efforts have been implemented in historic districts, mainly in Sharjah and Dubai in order to save the remaining of urban heritage in the UAE. In Dubai, for instance, over than 70 historic buildings were restored, others were rebuilt, and a modern urban development with traditional characteristics was implemented. The practice of urban conservation in the UAE varies depending on each city's own set of economic and urban priorities. Abu-Dhabi, for instance, did not keep much of its older urban pattern whereas Sharjah is performing massive conservation in its historic districts, and was recognized by the UNESCO as the cultural capital of the Arab World in 1998. The paper evaluates the role of local and national organizations in promoting urban conservation in the United Arab Emirates. Issues such as tourism and environmental concerns and their relation with urban conservation are identified. Integration between important theories and practices in dealing with historic districts is highlighted. Based on the analysis of the existing policy of urban conservation and its implementation, and the lessons learned from similar experiences, a direction for better strategy for urban conservation in the UAE is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-261
Number of pages13
JournalAEJ - Alexandria Engineering Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Heritage
  • UAE
  • Urban conservation
  • Urban development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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