Dynamics of populations and urban open spaces in the emerging city of Doha

Salama, Ashraf M. and Wiedmann, Florian and Khalfani, Fatma and Al-Maimani, Ahood (2016) Dynamics of populations and urban open spaces in the emerging city of Doha. In: Gulf Cities as Interfaces. Gulf Research Center Cambridge, Cambridge, UK, pp. 181-203. ISBN 978-1-909864-08-5

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Abstract

This chapter examines the current fast track urban growth as an important characteristic of the emerging city of Doha. This growth is marked by intensive infrastructure projects, high-rise clusters of glass towers, new cultural facilities including art museums, emerging residential environments on the periphery of the city, as well as hallmark events. However, very few studies have addressed important growth aspects, including the examination of the way in which the inhabitants comprehend and react to their built environment and the resulting spatial experience. This paper examines the inhabitants’ spatial experience in key urban open spaces in the city by applying cognitive and behavioral mapping procedures coupled with an attitude survey. Applying the cognitive mapping technique, 108 responses were received, analyzed, and classified under three categories a) living, working, and visiting patterns; b) comprehension of home range, home zone, and movement; and c) ethnic affiliation: Qataris and other Arab expatriates. Implementing direct systematic observation and behavioral mapping of key urban open spaces revealed important outcomes that include absence of physical aspects amenable for effective use while offering a pleasant experience for visitors. The findings contribute to an in-depth understanding of the inhabitants’ spatial experience of the everyday urban environment of Doha. The conclusion emphasizes that by developing the knowledge generated from research findings that are derived from the direct experience of inhabitants, the various aspects of how certain areas work within the urban structure of the city can be elucidated and the means for improving the qualities of the everyday urban environment can be sought.