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Urban Heritage in the Arabian Peninsula: The Experiences of Jeddah and Dubai
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Simone Ricca

World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for the Asia and the Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO (WHITRAP), Shanghai, China

ABSTRACT  Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates feature ultra-modern cities with millions of residents that developed in opposition to the physical patterns of traditional historical settlements. In the past years, however, there has been a renewed attention to urban heritage and two metropolises, Jeddah and Dubai, have decided to aim for World Heritage status and to leverage historic city centres as engines of economic development and tools for the reinforcement of national identity. In Dubai, the conservation and reconstruction of historic neighbourhoods gives residents an urban historic depth previously unrecognised, favouring the integration of different ethnic communities while contributing to the tourist development of the Emirate. In Jeddah, the preservation and revitalisation of the historic centre is part of a larger strategy focusing on the reinforcement of the private sector to trigger new urban dynamics building upon its rich heritage. Recent strategies and plans are briefly discussed, underlining the  pecificities of the Arabian Peninsula context and its complex and evolving relationship with history and heritage. It is argued that the nominations for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List have been a catalyser for the definition of new planning and conservation policies integrating urban heritage into urban development strategies.

KEYWORDS  Jeddah, Dubai, urban heritage, UNESCO World Heritage Convention, Historic Urban Landscape

Received May 22, 2018; accepted June 24, 2018.

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