This paper in its first part aims at contextualizing Abu Dhabi’s urban development and understanding the factors that
have governed its urban growth through a historical case study approach. Relying on archival records and primary
sources five stages of urban growth are identified. Data mining of media archives allows for a first hand account of
developments taking place thus grounding the depictions. The second part contextualizes this review through a case
study of the Central Market project — also known as Abu Dhabi’s World Trade Center. The paper concludes by elaborating
on the significance of such a historical analysis as it shifts the discourse away from a focus on the ‘artificiality’
of cities in the Gulf to one that is based on a recognition about the historicity of its urban centers, however recent it may
be. Additionally the pertinence of such an analysis for cities worldwide is discussed as well.
Keywords: Abu Dhabi, Urban Planning, Central Market, Urban History.
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