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Evolution in the Arab region

Salama, Ashraf M. (2017) Evolution in the Arab region. In: Time Frames. Routledge, London, pp. 365-371. ISBN 9781472489296

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The Arab region has witnessed intensive dramatic transformations both at the political and urban levels. Cultural politics in recent years have had significant impact on development, architecture, and urbanism. Although ‘Mediterraneanism,’ ‘Middle Easternism,’ ‘Pan-Arabism’, and ‘Islamism’ are typically used as constructs that serve political ends, they bring into focus questions about collective identity and the sharing of deeper meanings at the cultural and existential levels. The unique cultural and geo-political position of the Arab region, coupled with the contemporary global condition, created a rich soil for architectural and urban experimentation where a number of voices have emerged toward constructing identity and hopefully in search of meaning. While establishing correlations between cultural politics and architectural identity is a stimulating quest, the result of cultural political discourse is that architecture and cities continue to be labeled, debated, and referred to as ‘Arabic,’ ‘Islamic,’ ‘Mediterranean,’ ‘Gulf,’ ‘Egyptian,’ ‘Kuwaiti,’ ‘Qatari,’ ‘Saudi,’ etc. This chapter debates fundamental identity positions and present a comprehensive view on constructed identities and the rising impact of the global condition on architecture and urbanism. The chapter concludes with voice for co-existence of multiple identities.