IMG_8505bwsm_Apostolos Kyriazis

Roads as Tools for (dis)connecting Cities and Neighbourhoods: a socio-spatial study of Abu Dhabi

A two-year LSE Academic Collaboration with Arab Universities Programme funded by the LSE Middle East Centre, in collaboration with Abu Dhabi University

While road infrastructure has been an essential means to the rapid urban development in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) cities, it has also created barriers within cities, imposed economic costs, and promoted car dependency.

Motorisation, resource availability (land and oil), and urban development have led to a prioritisation of roads over urban planning, creating an urban space where roads and streets are dominated by cars and create barriers to physical and social connectivity. While these impacts have been widely recognised by the literature on most GCC cities, the relationships between factors that have led to this type of urban development, its physical and social impact, and alternatives within this cultural and climatic context remain under-researched.

Consequently, this project investigates the impact of road infrastructure on urban life in Abu Dhabi. It explores its challenges and opportunities, looking at the integration of road infrastructure in urban planning processes, as well as the effect of existing road infrastructure on city mobility and the environment. The project takes into account Abu Dhabi’s historical development in order to better understand how road infrastructure has shaped its urban development and contributed to increased levels of motorisation and traffic congestion.

Effective road infrastructure development can also create opportunities for more sustainable urban lifestyles. This project analyses existing and alternative design approaches while engaging with international and local initiatives to understand local perspectives and draft recommendations for policymakers and relevant institutions.

Photo: “Suburban collector road in Shakhbout City, Abu Dhabi, as a car-centric boundary between the desert and the urban” (credit: Apostolos Kyriazis)


Project Team

Principal Investigator
Alexandra Gomes, Research Officer, LSE Cities

Co-Principal Investigator
Dr Apostolos Kyriazis, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urbanism, Department of Architecture and Design, Abu Dhabi University.

Dr Clémence Montagne, urban and transport researcher
Peter Schwinger, transport economist and planning consultant

Principal Investigator
Alexandra Gomes

Co-Principal Investigator
Dr Apostolos Kyriazis

Project Partner
Abu Dhabi University

Project Funder
LSE Middle East Centre

Research Strand
Cities, Environment and Climate Change

September 2020 - August 2022