Jun 09 2009

sand castles

by at 7:11 pm

I imagine that before even beginning a discussion of Qatari prospects, Jane Jacobs would first insist that the proper unit of analysis is not, in fact, Qatar as a whole, but rather its chief city, Doha/Ad-Dawha, even if the Qatari riyal remains pegged to the US dollar. Then, I think Jacobs would quote herself, and call Doha and its surrounding region a “cathedral in the desert”, because of its geographically unlikely rise. And, while it is true that there are economic opportunities for and in Doha and Qatar, Jacobs might remind us that these opportunities are leveraged against the oil-wealth which gives the Qatari ruling family its power. For this discussion, we should consider how Doha and Qatar fit the model for cities and economic agglomeration outlined by Jacobs, in order to think of the future of this city-region. Continue Reading »

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Jun 09 2009

Qatar: is there hope for a country building cities in the sand?

by at 3:35 pm

As I child I made several trips to the beach to build sand castles. Those castles would always be swept away with the changing of the tide. As the water rose, my sand developments crumbled.

Sand Castle by JP Morgan

Sand Castle by JP Morgan

That said I’m familiar with the process of development and infrastructure as well as how plans can look really good at the beginning but fail for one reason or another. Plans, resources and motivation are necessary—you can’t create something from nothing. Everything has to come from some where, even dirt. Perhaps this is a good way to look at the creation of cities in Qatar. Continue Reading »

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Jun 09 2009

Qatarization – a Genius Idea

by at 2:47 pm

Qatar is an interesting country to consider through Jane Jacobs’ lens because it epitomizes a nation whose capital city was born and rebuilt through innovation – but Doha’s vibrancy spun off of its colonial past. In some ways, Doha does fly in the face of some of Jacobs’ arguments, but the city’s constant reinvention and innovation follow Jacobs’ sequencing to create a successful city. I think Jacobs would be a big fan of Doha. Continue Reading »

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Jun 09 2009

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

by at 2:05 pm

Vintage thriller movie aside, what would Jane Jacobs have to say about the situation in Qatar? Focusing on the various components of the network such as links through trade, export and import cycles, and diversification and reinvestment in the city region, I aim to divulge some pros and cons about the state of Qatar today. Specifically, I want to examine the architecture of the city, as well as the underlying balance between social capital and reliance on natural resources, which has primed the nation for a profitable leap into the networked economy.

What does the region look like in terms of cities and agglomeration effects?

Doha, the capital city, holds over 400,000 people, with 80% of the nation’s population residing in the city or in surrounding suburbs (Wikipedia). Continue Reading »

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