Habitat Unit

Seminar SoSe 2023
Dr. Hassan Elmouelhi, Prof. Anke Hagemann

Contemporary Arab Urbanism
Participation in Arab Public Space - between Conflicts and Prosperity

This seminar introduces the current urbanization trends and challenges of the MENA/ Arab region. The urbanisms of Arab countries have developed through different paths. Some countries still suffer from civil wars, others are struggling with political reforms. On the other hand, Gulf countries are booming with many urban mega projects, that are still controversial, creating a new identity accompanied by a diversification of economic resources. The seminar will discuss the geopolitical situation in different countries in the MENA/Arab region, its implications on urbanization processes, and different typologies of urban settlements, with a special focus on how participation is perceived and practiced within the urban governance framework and the political context of each country. Public space will be focused as a core element that represents the roles and relations of the state, the citizens and other stakeholders. This includes not only discussing cases from Tunesia, Sudan, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine and Egypt, but also some reflections and contributions from invited experts who will share their experiences from other Arab countries.

This seminar might be combined with workshops in the partner Arab countries, starting with Tunisia and Egypt, as a part of an international cooperation project funded by the DAAD; the results for the funding selection will be announced by end of March/April 2023.

Photo © Hassan Elmouelhi 2022

Download Poster here.

Course Information+

Wahlpflicht (WP)
MA UD: Grundlagen der
internationalen Urbansitik

Teaching Day
Tuesdays from 12 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Room: A606

First meeting
18. April 2023

Please apply by filling the form and uploading the cv and a motivation letter through the following link:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf5YXh4pogpDkexw8qWwoRUKRzpgGyuBiQB8HZ86FW2B_QSSA/viewform?usp=sharing

Dr. Hassan Elmouelhi
Prof. Anke Hagemann

Public lectures within the seminar +

Join via following zoom-link:


Tuesday, June 27th 2023 | 2.00 p.m. (CET)

"Al-Manarah Square - Ramallah/Al-Bireh: an evolving public space in a contested territory"

with Dr. Shaden Awad

This lecture addresses one of Palestine’s renowned public spaces, Ramallah/Al-Bireh’s al Manarah Square. After World War I, Ramallah/Al-Bireh began their transformation from provincial towns of Ottoman times to modern administrative centres; accordingly, the emergence of public spaces, including squares, roundabouts, and parks, was an important aspect of this transformation. The lecture is considering the emergence of the main public space in Ramallah/Al-Bireh, which is known as "al-Manarah Square". The Square has prominent value within Ramallah/ Al-Bireh urban structure. Its value is due to the physical, mental, and social significance that the square holds as a public space—in other words, its central urban location as well as its historical and cultural identity. The evolution of the square in a contested geography reflects the urban transformations of Ramallah/ Al-Bireh since the late 19th century until now. The lecture aims to explore and trace the various physical changes of al-Manarah Square due to instable political situations and power dynamics and to link these changes to the inhabitants’ spatial practices and the pedestrians’ movement as they pass al-Manarah Square.

Shaden Awad is an assistant professor in the Department of Architectural Engineering and planning  at Birzeit University.

Awad’s research focuses on the Palestinian cities’ urban transformations, the socio-spatial dialectic and the domesticity and notion of home. As an academic and researcher Shaden Awad  managed the capacity building for rural development in occupied Palestinian territory- project, 2011-2014 funded by the Austrian Partnership Programme in Higher Education and Research for Development (APPEAR) in collaboration with Graz Technical University. She co-coordinated the symposia on Palestinian Architecture, entitled “Land of dreams to dreamland: dream of a state to a state of a dream”, organized in collaboration with the FRAC -Center Val de Loire. She co-curated Event Horizon exhibition-2016, in collaboration National School of Arts of Bourge. She was member of Re: Territories research project (2016-2018) in collaboration with National School of Arts of Bourge (ENSA). She is currently a co-principle researcher in a research project that considers the women street vendors in the city center of Ramallah/Al-Bireh.

Shaden Awad received her PhD in Architecture from Graz University of Technology. Her PhD research focused on old city of Ramallah, home, perception and Rehabilitation approaches.  She holds an MA in Architectural Conservation from Al Quds University and MSc in Urban Planning and Design from Birzeit University. 



Tuesday, June 20th 2023 | 3.00 p.m. (CET)

"Urban Metamorphosis: Redefining Urbanism in Post-War Middle Eastern Countries: Shaping Effective Paradigms of Urban Recovery (A Case Study of Yemen)"

with Dr. Wafa Al-Daily


Tuesday, June 13th 2023 | 12.00 - 2.00 p.m.


with Taimaa Almashriki


Tuesday, June 6th 2023 | 12.00 - 2.00 p.m.

Is the Existence of Safe Public Spaces for Women in Cairo a Myth?

with Dr. Bedour Braker
(Jan Braker Architekt, Hamburg)


Tuesday, May 23th 2023 | 12.00 - 2.00 p.m.

How Gulf Cities are Changing the Middle Eastern Urbanity?
Interrogating Dubai – Contesting Doha

with Prof. Ali A. Alraouf
(Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at Hamad B. Khalifa University - Education City, Doha)


Tuesday, May 9th 2023 | 12.00 - 2.00 p.m.

Humanizing City Space in Contemporary Arab Cities
- Learning From Madinah

with Prof. Dr.-Ing. Galal Abada
(Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at the department of architecture, Ain Shams University in Cairo «ASU»)


Tuesday, May 2nd 2023 | 12.00 - 2.00 p.m.

The Automobile Urbanism of Abu Dhabi 
- From Modernist Dreams to Desert Bubbles

with Prof. Dr. Apostolos Kyriazis
(Assoc. Prof. of architecture at Abu Dhabi University)