The Nation in Transit in Doha, Qatar

Authors: Kristin Monroe*,
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, Transportation Geography
Keywords: transportation, mobility, infrastructure, nation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Diplomat Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

From its role as architect of the Middle East political landscape to its pursuit of a higher global profile through the realms of higher education, arts and architecture, and, most recently, international sporting events, the Qatari state is waging an assertive and multifaceted nation-building project with material, cultural, and spatial dimensions. In this paper, I argue that this project is too constituted, in important ways, through the realm of mobility.

The Doha Metro, currently under construction, is expected to be one of the most advanced rail systems in the world and signal the country’s natural resource-fueled regional and global rise when its first phase is completed just ahead of Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup. This rail system and its ‘mobility futures’ orientation is being installed in an urban spatial order that is normatively defined in relation to private automobility. In transforming the mobility infrastructure of the city through the introduction of a metro rail system, as has recently been done or is currently in process in many sites throughout the Global South, the metro project in Doha is part of the broader effort to configure it as a ‘global’ city that is a key node in the global network of finance and commerce and, further, an attractive place for transnational elites to work, live, play, and, with the 2022 World Cup, spectate. In my paper I explore how this large-scale, state-directed, future-oriented urban rail project constitutes a platform providing for and reproducing life in the city.

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