Backstreets tell UAE’s real stories

By Nick Leech

When it comes to thinking about cities, the view from his temporary home at New York University Abu Dhabi provides Suketu Mehta with all the material he needs.

“When I look at a place like this, I wonder what genius of an urban planner thought that it would be a great idea to make a city without sidewalks and decided that the automobile would have primacy over the pedestrian?” the writer wonders, looking across Saadiyat Island’s twisting motorways and flyovers towards the hotels that line its distant coastline.

“I’d love to be able to walk to the beach but I can’t really go for a walk outside this apartment. And, as you can see, I’m literally at the end of my road,” he says, pointing to a patch of waste ground beneath his window where six lanes of motorway simply disappear into the sand.

More than his role as an associate professor of journalism at New York University, his alma mater, it’s Mehta’s thinking and writing about urbanism that have brought him to NYUAD.

Since January, the award-winning author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found has been teaching a course at the university that not only involves looking at fiction, film, non-fiction and poetry, but also includes field trips to places such as Dubai’s Hor Al Anz, a neighbourhood that he considers to be one of the UAE’s more inspiring destinations. Read more
Source: The National