Once the site of a garbage dump, Al-Azhar Park is a verdant haven in the heart of one of the world’s most densely populated cities. The development project, led by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, achieved a grand urban vision for revitalizing center-city neighborhoods, restoring Islamic historical sites and reviving ancient crafts.
The modern metropolis is vulnerable to all sorts of sudden and gradual threats, from hurricanes and earthquakes to the consequences of global warming. To cope, society must be resilient and the city managed well. Be prepared! Here’s an Urban Dweller’s Guide to the Elements.
By the year 2100, our cities may be home to eight billion people, 80 percent of the projected global population. Much depends on how we navigate the intersection between urbanization and digital technology. Build the Smart City, but one street corner at a time.
The Motor City, once the world automobile capital, is now better known for urban decay. Public services are abysmal, crime rampant, and leadership absent. But a promising comeback may be in the works, thanks to civic-minded corporate executives, leaders of charitable foundations, and nonprofit neighborhood groups.
A Yangtze River boomtown reveals the dark side of China’s rapid urbanization. The skyline looks like another Hong Kong, with towering modern buildings and soaring bridges, but a closer look reveals worsening social stratification. By focusing on short-term economic gains, Chinese leaders risk creating divided cities with expansive slums and ghettoes of extreme wealth.
Since the September 11 attacks, Gotham lives under a blanket of tight security. Police and guards seem everywhere. Inspections, intrusions and blockages are the norm. The financial cost is huge. Quality of life is diminished. Is there anything to show for it?
A military judge found the U.S. army private guilty on twenty espionage and other charges related to the leaking of military field reports and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks. But the lack of transparency in the proceedings raises questions about the legitimacy of the verdict and the harshness of the sentence. Rather than achieving justice, the conviction highlights President Obama’s war on whistleblowers.
Legions of young Egyptians are unemployed. Many eventually find work but in an informal labor sector that deprives them of social security and other benefits. The economic frustrations of a new generation pose a serious threat to Egypt’s democratic transition.
Egyptians toppled the Hosni Mubarak regime in 2011 despite a solid economic growth rate. The lesson: politicians and policymakers must give due attention to the real needs and the expectations of vast numbers in the marginalized segments of the population.
With President Obama calling for a diplomatic solution, and the election of Hassan Rowhani as Iran’s chief executive, a fresh approach to nuclear negotiations is possible. But if diplomacy fails, there’s an Iranian case for withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Reflecting on democracy, the Iranian philosopher argues: “In a tyrannical system, the first organ that stops functioning is the judicial heart, and that when our heart is so feeble, having a strong and robust body is little more than a naïve and ridiculous dream.”
Three decades of American hostility to Iran has resulted in a “satisfying purity of indignation” but little more. It is time for presidential leadership, starting with small and symbolic gestures, to prevent an armed conflict that will cause irreparable damage to both sides.
Western powers suspect that Iran is developing atomic weapons. But the controversy over the country’s nuclear program obscures the fact that Iran launched its pursuit of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes a quarter century before the Islamic revolution. It was the United States that helped Iran launch its nuclear quest.