|Title||Shopping malls as ideological battlegrounds: discipline and power in Riyadh’s pseudo-public spaces|
Since the 1950s, Riyadh has witnessed unprecedented urban growth that has put pressure on the fabric of the city and irreversibly changed its urban environment. The accelerated processes of urban modernisation and the car-centric development of Riyadh have created an environment in which urban public life and the human scale were often neglected. The shopping mall typology offered a solution that seemed to provide the city with the public spaces that it needed. Unlike their counterparts in European and North American cities — whose malls have been competing with the city and its urbanity — malls in Middle Eastern and East Asian contexts have been an integral part of the urban process as well as the socio-cultural fabric of cities; Riyadh is no exception. However, the mall typology was introduced at a time when the ideological struggles between economic powers — incentivised to ‘modernise’ the urban environment — and religious powers — which perceive processes of urban modernisation as a threat to the ‘integrity’ of Saudi society — reached its peak. This tension created an urban environment characterised by spatial control, which was absorbed by the mall and resulted in the development of an iteration of the typology that is essentially Saudi in its characteristics.
This thesis aims to explore these characteristics and investigate the implications of the inherent tensions that are accentuated within the shopping mall. It aims to uncover the mechanisms that led to the emergence of the Saudi iteration of shopping malls and investigate how the typology has been re-adapted to respond to local requirements. The study of the mall in Riyadh offers a new understanding of the on-going evolution of the mall typology within a global context. More importantly, it is a vehicle through which the limitations that are imposed on urban spaces and public life in Riyadh are examined. The changing socioeconomic climate in Saudi Arabia today offers new opportunities for introducing sustainable and inclusive urban spaces. Understanding the limitations that have been imposed in public spaces in Riyadh — using the mall typology — is essential to efforts seeking to act on such opportunities.
|Keywords||shopping malls, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, disciplinary power|
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