Aysha FAROOQ, RWTH Aachen, Germany
The Arabian Gulf’s oil boom and its imminent requirement for a foreign labour force, led to almost half its population being comprised of guest workers from South Asian countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In an effort to grow the Gulf states’ labor force without increasing their permanent residents, these transnational migrants are only temporarily welcome with no eligibility to a citizenship or permanent residency, regardless of their duration of stay.
In Muscat, Oman, the population boom and rapid urbanization resulted in a sprawling city with neglected spaces in its urban fabric. Additionally, due to frequent land-use changes in the city, these unoccupied spaces may be built upon arbitrarily. As long as these spaces remain vacant, migrant workers give meaning to these otherwise meaningless places through interventions of informal urbanism and space appropriation. For example, empty building plots turn into grounds for cricket matches on the weekend. These acts of place-making are rooted in their urban social norms and allow for cultural continuity.
Drawing on Lefebvre’s theories on the production of space, this project examines space appropriation amongst migrant groups in Muscat and their invisible role played in the city’s identity. A light is shed on temporary places and their temporary users to gain insight into everyday negotiations and urban social relations.
Ethnographic methodology such as observation, qualitative interviews and photography have been used in addition to urban mapping to explore selected case-study sites in Muscat. In my presentation I will discuss the creation process and the value of one of the selected case-study sites.
Keywords: Place-making|Informal urbanism|Transnational migrants|Transient places