Mona Helmy


Over the past decades, contemporary urbanism in Arab cities has undergone a radical transformation under the influence of a variety of forces, such as globalization, with the influx of money, ideas, people, and development models. Consequently, development visions of cities in the Arab world have shifted from local to imported international models, generating new paradigms of Arab contemporary urbanism, which are strongly impacting on public places in particular. Imported international models in Arab Cities have varied between establishing new urban typologies resembling Western urban imagery and icons, gated communities, themed cities, gigantic commercial centres and shopping malls, among other models.
Places of public gathering in Arab cities are conceived as catalysts for change and as opportunities for domesticating and appropriating imported Western urban models. The multiplicity of opportunities for shaping, upgrading and rebuilding places of public gathering, from global paradigms to local realities, have stimulated many urban ambivalences and complexities, in which reconsidering places for public gathering nowadays implies a transdisciplinary understanding and a multifaceted perspective. The superimposing of changing concepts has critically transformed settings, structure, and functions of places for public gathering, while establishing the Arab urbanism as a brand new competitive urban system.


How to Cite
Helmy, M. (2021) “Re-visioning Places of Public Gathering in the Contemporary Arab Urbanism”, The Journal of Public Space, 6(1), pp. 1–4. doi: 10.32891/jps.v6i1.1456.
Author Biography

Mona Helmy, The British University in Egypt

Mona Helmy is an architect, urbanist, and educator. Currently, she is an associate professor of architecture and urban design at the British University in Egypt (BUE). She received a Doctoral degree in Architecture and City Planning from Stuttgart University, Germany. She holds a master’s degree in Urban Design and a Bachelor of Architecture from Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt. She holds a higher diploma of “Teaching for Understanding” from Harvard University.
Between 2010 and 2018, Dr. Helmy was the founding chair of the architecture department at Dar Al-Hekma University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Sausi Arabia. She also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Stuttgart in Germany. She published widely in international and national conferences. She is a member of several scientific committees in international conferences, symposia, and refereed journals. As part of her scholarly activities, she served as a guest editor to a themed issue from The Journal of Public Spaces (JPS) that focused on Placemaking in Arab Cities.
She is a research fellow at the Städtebau-Institut “SI” of the University of Stuttgart. The current research studies of Dr. Helmy focus on “Creative Public Spaces”, “City Imaging and Branding” as well as “City Eventification”.
As a consultant and advisor in urban design, city branding, and contemporary Arab Gulf urbanism, she has participated in a number of significant planning, urban, and architecture projects in Germany, Saudi Arabia, and the Middle East. She also contributed to several design studies.