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URBAN TRANSFORMATIONS AND CONTESTED SPACES IN THE KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Abstract
By : Ahmed O. El-Kholei, Sabah S. Aljenaid, Ghadeer M. Kadhem

 
Manama, the capital city of the Kingdom of Bahrain, is a major port in the Arabian Gulf, a financial hub. Following the discovery of oil, Bahrain attracted skilled and unskilled expats. The Government initiated plans for urban development. Urban growth was at the expense of agricultural and desert lands in addition to reclaiming land from water bodies. Affluent Bahrainis moved to newer settlements. Low-income Bahrainis continued to live in the old quarters. Single male workers, mostly Asians, moved into dilapidated buildings in the old quarters of the city. The paper employs a mixed research approach. It uses Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems to account for urban transformations; and as well as document review, interviews, and a questionnaire to understand the process underlying these transformations and their outcomes. The results show how globalisation and neoliberalism led Manama to emerge as a global city. Cultural identity and geographic location within the Bahraini metropolitan area suggest these relationships are dynamic. Planners perceived Bahraini cities as a morphological phenomenon. They did not comprehend the complexity of the socio-cultural particularities of Bahraini cities. Revitalising the old quarters of Manama can serve as a national mega project, thus conserving its cultural identity.

Keywords: Globalisation, Remote Sensing, Geographic Information System, Cultural Identity, Migrants

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