The Crisis of the Arab City
.أبو عياش، عبد الإله. أزمة المدينة العربية. الكويت: وكالة المطبوعات، ١٩٨٠، ٢٣٦ص
’Abu ‘Ayash, ‘Abd Al-Ilah. ’Azmat al-Madinah al-‘Arabiyyah. Kuwait: Wakalat al-Matbu‘at, 1980, 236pp.


The Crisis of the Arab City 

أزمة المدينة العربية

’Azmat al-Madinah al-‘Arabiyya consists of ten chapters, with no bibliography; references are provided in footnotes throughout the main text. The first chapter consists of a short introduction in which the author highlights the scope of his study. The second chapter examines generally the contributing factors that brought about the establishment of the city in the Arab world; factors ranging from economic and cultural to geographic, political, and religious. An overview of the origins of eleven cities is provided. The cities covered are: Ishbilia (Seville during the Muslim rule), Marrakesh, al-Kirawan, Baghdad, Mecca, Medina, Sana‘a, Damascus, al-Quds (Jerusalem), Cairo, and Beirut. 

Chapters three to eight deal with the crisis facing the modern Arab city, including problems with immigration, ecological and environmental issues, and the psychological and social repercussions of the modern city. 

The book covers the activities of both the residents of the cities and those in the surrounding villages and farms. A section is dedicated to commerce, craft, architecture and calligraphy and other artistic practices. The author then summarises a number of contemporary scholarly approaches for studying and understanding cities and their foundation, discussing the ecological, geographical, and anthropological approaches. He also explores the dynamism and relationship between the concepts of city and urbanism, highlighting the work of Louis Wirth. He compares, quantitative as well as qualitative observations, of various aspects of modern Arab cities. The study concludes with a discussion about the future of the modern Arab city and some suggestions and advice on the importance of planning.

Even though the study suffers from over-generalisation in some places, it nonetheless provides interesting data on multiple aspects of urbanism and related scholarly debates and approaches. It will be useful for anyone interested in the phenomenon of the rise of the modern Arab city. 

Bilal Maanaki
Maanaki, Bilal. '"English abstract of 'The Crisis of the Arab City'". Translated by Bilal Maanaki. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi, 23. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
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