Building Sharjah Available June 21, 2021


Barjeel Art Foundation

United Arab Emirates
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The upcoming release of Building Sharjah marks the completion of an intensive five-year research project to collect and reconstruct Sharjah’s modern landscape, including the parts once imagined and those no longer to be found. Co-edited by Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi and Todd Reisz and published by Birkhäuser, Building Sharjah is one of the most engaging and thorough examinations of the history of modernization in the United Arab Emirates. Nearly 600 images from dozens of sources, mostly unpublished until now, in addition to more than 60 featured projects and newly commissioned contributions from 17 writers chart how modernist ambitions came together to engineer a global city.

About the book
Building Sharjah tells the tale of how modern architecture unfurled across the United Arab Emirates’ third-largest city. An offshore discovery in 1972 positioned Sharjah to be one of the world’s last cities shaped by oil’s transformative fortune. Following in the footsteps of Kuwait, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai, Sharjah faced a metamorphosis and a choice: repeat the mistakes of the past or reimagine the ways that wealth can build a city.

Sharjah’s tremendous potential enticed an international cast of experts to create a bold, new city. As their projects continue to disappear from the city’s landscape, this book sets out to preserve them through previously unpublished photographs and documents. New writing chronicles how local and newly arrived residents arranged the designed, concrete environment into a home. Beyond just a local artifact, this book examines the confident promises made by global practices of urbanization.

Building Sharjah brings together a group of voices who know this city well with those who can contribute to understanding Sharjah in a more global context. Their works—ranging from literary fiction to neighborhood memoir and heartfelt historical analysis—anchor the book’s deep search for how such a pronounced effort to modernize through architecture materialized for the people arriving to live in Sharjah. Contributors include Ammar Al Attar; Mohamed Elshahed; Roberto Fabbri; Reem Khorshid; Michael Kubo; Hind Mezaina; Abdulla Saad Moaswes; Mona El Mousfy; Hammad Nasar; Talal Al-Rashoud; Alia Al Sabi; K. V. Shamsudheen; Łukasz Stanek; Suheyla Takesh; and Deepak Unnikrishnan.

The book can be ordered directly from the publisher’s website . Or you can purchase from Book Depository and other online outlets.

More information about the book can be found at You may also contact us at 

Building Sharjah
Birkhäuser, 2021
Cloth cover, 440 pages, 27 x 18cm

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, editor
Todd Reisz, editor
Reem Khorshid, lead researcher
Farah Fayyad, graphic designer
Ammar Al Attar, photo editor

Azza Abou Alam, researcher
Noura Al Mahmoud, researcher
Eyad Houssami, copy editor
Edo Smitshuijzen, image editing
Ahmad Imran Ahmad Kamal, administrative support
Asma Faizal, administrative support