"Building glass refrigerators in the desert": Discourses of urban sustainability and nation building in Qatar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Planners around the Arab Gulf states are increasingly drawing on narratives about "urban sustainability," despite the fact that the explosive growth of urban centers in the Arabian desert largely defies the logic of sustainability. In this article, I consider how and with what effect these narratives have been deployed by various actors in Doha, Qatar. Eschewing a simple economistic reading, I highlight political geographic context and analyze how actors mobilize and rework these discourses. Drawing on mixed-methods fieldwork in Fall 2013, I illustrate how sustainability narratives are mobilized together with nationalist tropes about modernizing Qatar and building up the countrys international prestige, while preserving local traditions and culture through the built environment. With a focus on recent efforts to green Doha, this analysis sheds light on the disciplining function of nationalist discourses in the production and constitution of what it means to label development practices "green" in contemporary Qatar.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1118-1139
Number of pages22
JournalUrban Geography
Volume35
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 17 2014

Keywords

  • eco-city
  • Gulf nationalism
  • Qatar
  • urban sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies

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