"Where's the air conditioning switch?": Identifying problems for sustaining local architectural traditions in the contemporary United Arab Emirates

Source of Publication

Advances in Architecture Series


This paper examines the perception of vernacular architecture in the modern cities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and how this view creates obstacles in sustaining historic building forms and techniques. I argue that the greatest obstacle is the complex symbolic role that these buildings play in modern nation-building. While historic buildings are viewed with nostalgia, they are also not deemed suitable for contemporary life and have been isolated in the process of economic and social development. Separated from enlivening social activities, historic architecture in the UAE seems destined to survive only as outdoor museum displays.

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

First Page


Last Page


Publication Date


Author First name, Last name, Institution

R. W. Hawker, Zayed University

This document is currently not available here.