Abu Dhabi: Global Changes and Competing Visions of Modernity

Mohamed El-Amrousi, John Biln .


Abu Dhabi’s policy to invest in mega
projects to brand its image for cultural tourism and
urban expansion is part of its 2030 vision to diversify its
income and attract investors through the creation of a
modern Arab city. Shorefront development and large
real estate projects run hand in hand as part of a
process seeking international acclimation. Existing
urban enclaves of the city created mostly in the 1970’s
are being framed with iconic skyscrapers along Abu
Dhabi’s waterfronts to offer new urban windows of the
city. In the process star architects advocate signature
projects to brand the city as part of Abu Dhabi’s new
infrastructure development to create a gateway city in a
rapidly developing and competitive Gulf region. These
new icons of Abu Dhabi vary in their architectural
manifestations from cultural projects and mega
museums to complex skyscrapers made possible
through new technologies that avail. Abu Dhabi’s new,
more visible architecture manifests the emergence of
yet another competitor on the global market of Asian
and Gulf cities. The new architecture that is reshaping
the skyline of the oil rich state constructs in the process
a new city image of unprecedented wealth. This paper
explores the current changes in Abu Dhabi and the
competing visions of tradition, culture and modernity
as the city strives to claim status in a global hierarchy
of Asian and Arab financial centers.


Abu Dhabi, rapidly developing regions, modern Arab cities, tradition and modernity

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