University conference a resounding success in Jordan

The University co-hosted an international conference last week in Jordan, and was a success in attracting academics from around the world.

The ‘First International Conference on the Transformation of the Urban Character of Arab Cities since the Late Last Century’, organised and co-hosted by Birmingham City University and the German Jordanian University (GJU), took place in Jordan from 22 April to 24 April 2015 at the German Jordanian University main campus, and was supported by the Mayor of Amman, Akel Beltagi.

The conference discussed various topics and subjects such as:

  • Modernity and tradition: Approaches and practices in urban design; comparative analysis of contemporary and traditional approaches.
  • Capitalism and modernism: the changing character of urban spaces.
  • The social dimension of urban design: responsive and inclusive public spaces.
  • Urban identity and social sustainability of the city
  • The political and sociocultural dimensions of regeneration projects.

The GJU President, Prof. Natheer Abu Obeid, emphasised that this International Conference was held in the context of the social and cultural transformation, globalisation and the revolution of information technology, pointing out that education, training and human development are major activities that need healthy competitive environments.

من المؤتمرProf. Mohsen Aboutorabi, Professor of Architecture at the University, said: “This conference is aiming to develop a new narrative to form a new utopian thinking that can change the global sameness paradigm to colorful landscape of variety of cities, through underscoring the urgent political priority of constructing cities that correspond to human social needs, rather than to the capitalist imperative.”

In spite of the political unrest in the region, the conference succeeded in gathering professionals and academics from all other the world. Dr. Bushra Zalloom, (conference coordinator and University representative in Jordan) mentioned that there were around forty scientific papers at the conference from the USA, Canada, Germany, Italy, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, UAE, UK, and Jordan. The conference included eight valuable sessions and welcomed keynote speakers Dr. Farouk Yaghmour from Jordan, Prof. Christoph Zoepel from Germany, Prof. Ali Madanipour from UK, Prof. Ruth Carter from the USA. The third day was a scientific tour to discover the legacy of Amman, Jordan.

The conference highlighted that stakeholders should find practical solutions to prevent the city identity, rather than only focusing on the urban problems in the region. It also highlights the importance of the co-operation between universities, public and private sectors to establish strategies that could be implemented gradually on ground. Moreover, the Arab region should benefit from the developed countries experiences in the field and try to create their own way in preventing their identity.

During the concluding session, Dr. Mohammed Yaghan, the Dean of School of Architecture and Built environment at GJU, said: “This conference has come to bridge the gap between theory and practice, and will help in developing the field.”