The phase 1 focused on researching and documenting urban developments in the Gulf Region prior to the significant impact of the oil and gas industry on the local economies and lifestyles. As part of this phase of the research, a methodology was set looking at urbanism and architecture through local history, culture, economics, environment, and public health. Coastal cities in the 8 countries of the Gulf have been analyzed and compared based on the adopted methodology. The definition of sustainability shifts with time. In the past, sustainability was about adaptation and survival, with little concern for the depletion of resources. Furthermore, the parameters of adaptation and survival changed according to the specific environmental and sociocultural context of the Gulf region. As a result, the analysis and comparisons of the past are based on this definition of sustainability.

A study of historical urbanization patterns was conducted on a representative sample of 14 urban settlements in 8 countries surrounding the Gulf: twelve coastal cities (including two cases of “twin” cities) and two associated hinterland cities. Urban and regional histories were documented and analyzed to understand the complex relationships that generated long-lasting urban forms and efficient building designs. Older cities were paired with younger cities to supplement the available information for these more contemporary cities. Listed in clockwise geographic order, the studied cities are:

• Oman: Old Muscat and Muttrah
• United Arab Emirates (UAE): Dubai & Abu Dhabi, Al Ain
• Saudi Arabia: Dammam and the old city of Hofuf
• Qatar: Doha
• Bahrain: Manama and Muharraq
• Kuwait: Kuwait City
• Iraq: Basrah
• Iran: Bandar Abbas and Bandar Lengeh


Read an excerpt of selected chapters of the Towards a Sustainable Urbanism in the Gulf: Analysis of the Past here:

Table of Contents

Volume 1

Background note
01 Gulf Region
02 Doha, Qatar
03 Manama & Muharraq, Bahrain
04 Dammam & Hofuf, Saudi Arabia
05 Dubai & Abu Dhabi, UAE

Volume 2

06 Muscat & Muttrah, Oman
07 Bandar Abbas & Bandar Lengeh, Iran
08 Basrah, Iraq
09 Kuwait City, Kuwait
10 Comparisons
11 Dimensions of Sustainability