Roads as Tools for (Dis)connecting Cities and Neighbourhoods: a Socio-spatial Study of Abu Dhabi

in collaboration with Abu Dhabi University

LSE PI: Alexandra Gomes 
Co-PI: Dr Apostolos Kyriazis
Duration: September 2020 – January 2023

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

Road infrastructure has been essential to the rapid urban development of GCC cities. While it can be used to create opportunities for more sustainable urban lifestyles, it has often taken priority over urban planning, creating barriers to connectivity within cities, and promoting car dependency.

While literature on the topic exists, the different factors that have led to this trajectory of urban development across GCC cities is under-researched. With Abu Dhabi as example, this project contextualises the city's urban development and investigates the impact of road infrastructure on urban life. It analyses the integration of roads in urban planning processes, as well as the effect of existing road infrastructure on mobility and the environment. 

This project looks at existing and alternative design approaches that could help with the possible integration of new mobility services in the city, and aims to engage with international and local initiatives to understand local perspectives and draft recommendations for policymakers and relevant institutions.

This project forms part of the Academic Collaboration with Arab Universities Programme, funded by the Emirates Foundation.

Project Output

Research Team


Alexandra Gomes | Principal Investigator 

Alexandra is Research Fellow at LSE Cities.


Dr Apostolos Kyriazis | Co-Principal Investigator

Apostolos is Associate Professor of Architecture and Urbanism, Department of Architecture and Design, Abu Dhabi University.

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Dr Clémence Montagne | Consultant 

Clémence is an urban and transport researcher. 


Peter Schwinger | Consultant 

Peter is a transport economist and planning consultant. 

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Nour Al Ali | Research Assistant 

Nour is an architecture student at Abu Dhabi University.


Haya Omar Al-Baiti | Research Assistant 

Haya is an architecture student at Abu Dhabi University.


Juman Sebai | Research Assistant 

Juman is a third year architecture student at Abu Dhabi University, with an interest in urban planning.


Eiman Shahin | Research Assistant 

Eiman is completing a BA in Social Anthropology at the LSE. She plans to continue onto an MSc in Urban Planning, focussing on post-conflict planning in the Middle East and spatial inequalities in Gulf cities. 


Branwen Spector | Research Assistant 

Branwen is a lecturer in Research Methods at Brunel University and teaches in Anthropology and Political Geography at University College London. Her research focus is refugee mobility and infrastructure.

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Hiba Syed | Research Assistant 

Hiba is a student at Abu Dhabi University, with a focus in architecture and urbanism.


Sepehr Zhand | Research Assistant 

Sepehr is a PhD candidate at the Space Syntax Laboratory, UCL, where he investigates how development policies intensify informal growth through applying machine learning.