Perceiving urban liveability in an emerging migrant city

Salama, A.M. & Wiedmann, F.

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Salama, A. M., & Wiedmann, F. (2016). Perceiving urban liveability in an emerging migrant city. Proceedings of the ICE-Urban Design and Planning, 169(6), 268-278.

Gulf cities have witnessed rapid urban growth where new migrant communities from various cultural backgrounds have been evolving over the last two decades. This paper explores perceptions of liveable urban environments in Qatar’s capital city, Doha. An attitude survey of 280 migrant professionals from different cultural backgrounds engaged in the high service sector was conducted. A profile for each cultural group including westerners, middle easterners, Indians and Southeast Asians was developed to analyse the way in which the key liveability factors are perceived. Factors were classified into two overarching categories: urban life and urban spaces. Urban life category included aspects that pertain to traffic and movement experience, residential satisfaction, shopping experience, and satisfaction regarding leisure and service spaces. Urban space category included attractiveness, iconicity and familiarity, which were attitudinally explored in four public open spaces. The inquiry has uncovered a number of concerns related to traffic experience, housing quality, parking spaces, school facilities and shopping opportunities. This may stymie the city’s global attractiveness success on the global stage while warranting the need for addressing liveability as a part of future development plans.

Main finding
Doha exemplifies the effects of rapid and extensive migration on urbanism in the Gulf region. The local population struggles with conflicted identity as a result of continuous exchange and movement characterizing migration patterns. Instead of embracing the increasing cultural diversity, catering the consumption needs leads to placelessness and the emergence of random and real estate driven urban landscapes. Sustaining the local urban identity is important for ensuring urban liveability in a changing context and population.

Description of method used in the article
A comprehensive survey targeted mainstream middle class expatriates employed in 43 companies within the advanced producer service sector in Doha. Out of 351 employees that participated in the survey, 280 complete responses were received. The survey included multiple choice and open-ended questions and was divided in three sections: 1. basic information 2. urban life aspects 3. urban life perceptions

Policy implications

Organising categories

Gathering/Socializing Performance/Cultural Expression
Physical types
Geographic locations