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Cities within Cities: An Urbanization Approach in the Gulf Countries


Within Dubai, nineteen out of the original 112 mega-projects carried the word city in their names, a phenomenon that is common in Gulf cities such as Dubai, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. To further explore this phenomenon, this thesis focuses on three aspects that affect the dynamic relationship between the primary city and the cities within cities (sub-cities) in the Gulf region with special emphasis on Dubai. First, the naming problem of the sub-city illustrates why the tension between competing identities produces a set of effects that could either enforce or confuse the overall urban identity. Secondly, this thesis demonstrates how Dubai utilizes two seemingly opposed growth strategies (sprawl and infill) in order to grow as a primary city and to integrate its sub-cities. The last aspect explores how Dubai's internal governance structure enables the freedom and autonomy of sub-cities. This thesis proposes that the friction between sub-cities and their primary cities, whether conceptual or physical, is what produces and shapes modern Gulf cities.

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