Wahat Al Karama: The Oasis of Dignity

The 10th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, Gold Coast, Queensland from Monday 13 – Tuesday 14 November 2017.

Ms Chetana Andary, Senior Principal Middle East for UAP will be at this year’s Conference, discussing“Wahat al karama: The oasis of dignity”.

Wahat Al Karama, The Oasis of Dignity, in Abu Dhabi, treads a delicate balance between traditional memorial and place destination. Its role is far more complex than any monument may suggest. As a tapestry of interwoven meanings, symbols, emotions, memories and narratives, it is ultimately the creation of a new urban place to demonstrate unity in a highly disrupted society.

Chetana Andary

From nomadic Bedouin to modern metropolis, Abu Dhabi was a small fishing and pearling village until the influx of petrodollars. Its evolution from desert oasis to modern metropolis is fueled by significant nation building highlighting a place of contrasts where Sheiks take selfies and Westerners smoke shisha. Abu Dhabi, where the traditional culture is firmly rooted in Arabia’s Islamic traditions is also home to a massive population of expat workers now comprising nearly 85% of the inhabitants.

Cognisant of the contrasting urban fabric of a city in flux, Wahat Al Karama is presented as a conceptual metaphor as a place for reflection that is an attraction, place attachment and place identity. Commissioned by the Crown Prince, the memorial park covers 46,000 square meters symbolically located opposite the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque. It contains a central plaza with a reflection pool that is emptied when hosting commemorative events of up to 1,200 people.

The dominant centrepiece is the monument, designed by British Artist Idris Khan. Comprised of 31 cast-aluminium tablets, the largest standing 23 metres in height, the tablets cascade and lean on each other to represent unified strength, power and pride among soldiers, loved ones and their country. With its impressive scale, the Wahat Al Karama represents the eternal martyr, a place of reassurance and defiance.

The presentation will follow the project from vision to realty, exploring the meaning of memorials, the translation of the term of martyr, and the creation of a new destination in a highly changeable Middle East.

This year, the International Urban Design Conference offers optional tours available on Wednesday 15 November. These will include visiting two of the precincts that have been designed and built for the 2018 Commonwealth Games held on the Gold Coast in April 2018.

Register here!

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