Research project to create the world’s first Gulf Encyclopedia for Sustainable Urbanism

Announcing the Msheireb Properties and Harvard partnership

Msheireb Properties (formerly Dohaland) announced a partnership with the Harvard University Graduate School of Design to launch a research project for a study focusing on sustainable urbanism in the Gulf region.

The research will help create the Gulf Encyclopedia for Sustainable Urbanism (GESU), which will be the first of its kind, and will also help establish a regional base research facility in Qatar.

“The partnership with Harvard is part of our commitment to highlight on a global scale the importance of sustainability to the future of our region,” said Eng. Issa M. Al Mohannadi, CEO of Msheireb Properties.


“The dynamism of the Gulf makes it a beacon for global urban development, which will make this research applicable beyond its geographical boundaries,” said Spiro Pollalis, professor of Design, Technology and Management at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Pollalis will lead the Harvard research team based at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Advisors and experts both from Qatar research stakeholders and across different Harvard schools will advise the research team.

The GESU project is expected to be completed in three phases and will draw on the region’s environment (both land and sea), its urbanism and architecture, and its society, culture and economics.

The Phase 1 historic research process will begin with research into the past role of sustainability in the Gulf region. The Phase 2 research will involve the contemporary historic perspective, drawing relations among growth, planning, architectural, urban design, economic and socio-cultural studies. The project will generate ideas about development for the future that are friendly to the environment.

“We strongly believe that future urban growth can be positively affected by learning from the past, while acknowledging that the present is shaped by forces resulting from future projections and aspirations. Hence we feel it is important to analyse and understand how our ancestors dealt with common regional urban sustainability challenges and draw lessons from them,” said Al Mohannadi.

The project will be funded by Msheireb Properties, a subsidiary of Qatar Foundation, and will also involve researchers from the countries that border the Gulf.

The study is meant to solve the lack of written resources on the subject. The similarities, differences, and interconnections among the eight countries that border the Gulf – Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Iran and Iraq – have not been previously studied.

The initial research is seen as important for the region’s coastal strips, as despite differences in environmental and socio-economic conditions, the countries share the coastal zone of the Gulf, and have a direct impact on each other.

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