Mapping the Growth of an Arabian Gulf Town: The Case of Doha, Qatar

In: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Richard Fletcher University College London Doha Qatar

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Robert A. Carter University College London Doha Qatar

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This paper is based on research undertaken for the Origins of Doha Project. It is a unique attempt to interrogate the construct of the Arab city against rigorously collected evidence and meticulous analysis of historical urban geography. We have found that Doha in its urban layout, physical development, architecture, and pre-oil demographics, combined its disparate cosmopolitan elements into a blend that probably typified the historic Gulf town, simultaneously encapsulating aspects of the generalised “Arab and Islamic town.” We have found strong structural principles at work in both the traditional and the early modern town, many of which correlate strongly with tribal social organisation, although the historic population of Doha was neither overwhelmingly tribal in character nor entirely Arab in origin. Rather, these constituted prevailing ideologies, social structures, and identities in a diverse and cosmopolitan population

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