Authors: Hannah A. Allawi
Abstract:Instant cities are on the rise. With a global trend that has stretched from the Far East to the Middle East, these emergent cities have challenged the world through their instant urban growth and their spectacular economic impact on a global scale. Cities like Shanghai and Dubai have been instrumental in the growth of other emergent cities - the craze of ‘Dubaization’  or Dubai-mania has been on the rise through out the more politically stable countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Middle East. The GCC came together in 1981 uniting the countries of Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait. In recent years, cities of the GCC, primarily, Doha, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Manama have each adapted to the notion of instant urban growth, and much like Dubai, they have become part of the race for urban and architectural development. This paper will examine the city of Abu Dhabi as a case study considering its uniqueness and rich history, though considered short in comparison with other major cities around the world. Abu Dhabi has an opportunity to document and analyze its architectural and urban evolution in order to fully understand its past, present and potential future as a modernized metropolis. Instant cities now have the challenge to meet the needs of environmental sustainability in order to become even smarter cities and thus must face the challenge of adapting their existing urban fabric to accommodate sustainable urban and architectural development. This paper provides an overview of the urban morphology of Abu Dhabi, an influential instant Arab gulf city, and the process of their instantaneous urban growth. An overview of their urban history may call upon the question of their future adaptability and current progress for future changes to the city. The current research identifies the unique historical phases of urban development of Abu Dhabi up to present day that each correspond to and contain their distinctive cultural, societal and environmental factors that have helped shaped the city – these factors have been taken into consideration when defining the stages of urban development through the defined phases. The continuous development of the city of Abu Dhabi, to a great extent, considers its ongoing growing economy and distinctive environment contained as part of each defined period provided in the following overview.
Keywords: Emergent Cities; Gulf Cooperation Council; Instant Cities; Urban Morphology