Heritage in the Lived Environment of the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf Region
front matter
This paper examines how the architectural, social, and cultural heritage of the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries may contribute to better development of this region’s lived environment. Modern urbanism has largely neglected heritage in architectural design and in social and private spaces, creating inauthentic places that foster a hunger for belongingness in the UAE’s built environment. The paper reviews recent urban developments in the UAE and the Gulf Region, and identifies elements of local heritage that can be incorporated into contemporary planning and design. It proposes that adapting vernacular architectural heritage to the modern built environment should not be the principal goal for heritage-informed design. Instead we may examine the social processes underlying the traditional lived environment, and aim for social sustainability based on the lifeways and preferences of local peoples, especially in kinship and Islamic values. Among the most promising precedents for modern social sustainability are social and spatial features at the scale of the neighborhood in traditional Islamic settlements. Interviews with local Emiratis will also recommend elements of traditional knowledge to modern settings. 


vernacular architecture; bioclimatic architecture; Islamic urbanism; social sustainability; traditional knowledge; sense of place; United Arab Emirates; Gulf countries


Hobbs, Joseph John. "Heritage in the Lived Environment of the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf Region." Archnet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research 11, no. 2 (March 2017): 55-82.

Parent Publications
Joseph John Hobbs
vernacular architecture