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From pre-oil settlement to post-oil hub : the urban transformation of Doha

Wiedmann, Florian and Salama, Ashraf M. (2013) From pre-oil settlement to post-oil hub : the urban transformation of Doha. ArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, 7 (2). pp. 146-159. ISSN 1938-7806

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Abstract

Since oil production commenced in the middle of the 20th century Qatar's capital Doha witnessed a rapid urbanisation period. Today, new development strategies, which have been implemented to diversify Qatar's economy, have led to a new urban transformation process with the vision to establish Doha as hub within global networks. Economic transformation processes in Qatar have always caused new structures within its society, which in turn affected urban developments. After decades of urbanisation based on the export of oil, the introduction of a hub vision at the end of the 1990s marked a new process that has been rethinking urbanism in Qatar. Although current developments have attracted worldwide attention, there has been rather little scientific reflection as to how current urbanism in the Gulf should be understood in relation to its past and projected future. Therefore, this paper seeks to investigate the various factors impacting Doha's urban environment during economic transformation processes. Each economic transformation has had a large impact on the structure of the city's society as well as its built environment. The current transformation process can still be considered at its beginning. In order to understand the impact of contemporary economic diversification strategies, the city's past urbanisation stages and their spatial development factors had to be analysed. All in all four distinct phases of urbanism can be distinguished in the case of Doha: The pre-oil settlement, the modernisation period, the oil city and the globalised hub