Urban redevelopment trauma: The story of a Dubai neighbourhood

Khaled Alawadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This article tells the story of the transformation, partial demise, and unclear fate of a Dubai neighbourhood. Al-Satwa, a traditionally designed Dubai neighbourhood, demonstrates a kind of urban violence that is under-theorized in urban studies literature: the disruption caused by top-down redevelopment. This article describes two kinds of violence that have characterized redevelopment efforts in Al-Satwa: displacement of residents and destruction of cultural fabrics and traditional neighbourhood lifestyles. The article draws on several kinds of government and historical documents, field observation, and interviews with thirty-five Al-Satwa residents to describe how Dubai's post-2008 redevelopment strategy enacted these kinds of violence on the Al-Satwa neighbourhood. Findings reveal that Dubai's post- 2008 planning acts purposefully destroyed many traditional neighbourhoods in order to expand Dubai's culture of excess and superlative architecture. I show how these actions affect the living conditions of Al-Satwa's low-income workers, who are strongly att ached to their modest environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-375
Number of pages19
JournalBuilt Environment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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