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Urban Oman Exhibition Panel 4 - Introduction Rural Urban Interface



Rural urban interface Showcase: rural urban interface: A particular Rural-urban interface is going to be created in the Sultanate that show new inter-linkages between urban and rural areas, in particular between Muscat Capital Area and the adjacent well connected rural hinterland. New type of flows/exchange between ‘urban’ and ‘rural’ areas can be observed such as i.e: Flow of people: -People go for work in MCA but keep their permanent residence in the near by country side, consequently circular migration has increased (daily commuting) -multi-local households become more frequent (employed household members stay in town during week time, go back to their rural home areas during week end and holidays) -elder people stay in rural areas while younger families move to live in urban areas, close to schools, universities, modern shopping facilities and jobs. - originally urban households decide to live in the close by rural hinterland, as land and property is cheaper and easier to access. Flow of money: - still existing date plantations in the villages are run by few owners who have their permanent residence in MCA, thus income generated in rural areas is transferred to urban zones; - and vice versa: income generated in urban areas is going to be spend in rural hinterland Flow of ideas and values: - Residences built in the countryside follow patterns of rather urban residences. - Life style patterns in former rural areas are more and more alike to those in urbanized areas; the exchange of values and priorities in daily life is going to be transmitted throughout the country by media and communication facilities. Flow of goods: Meanwhile goods that were not known and not available in the original rural areas, such as i.e. tv, AC, modern technical equipment, internet etc) are to be found anywhere. Facilitated by good access roads all kind of foodstuff, cloths or building material is available in all parts of the country alike. In particular where physical linkages facilitate these kinds of flows and exchange, both sides – the rural and the urban - are moving towards each other and create a transitional zone, where rural and urban life style patterns merge. These areas then are neither rural nor urban anymore. Transformation of settlement patterns perform in different ways as the following examples prove: Within existing rural settlements: a) transformation is shown in declining empty fallen old buildings, mainly mud brick constructions. These houses obviously don’t meet anymore the amenities of today and are left back in favor of newly erected villas reflecting urbanized life style patterns Inactive gardens and fields, dying or already partly or totally given-up date plantations tell about declining agricultural activities; Photo 1 & 2 b) Larger plots built up with more than one house to host extended families are going to be changed into smaller plots for one core family only. Photo 3 c) new houses are shaped similar to the overall “urban villa” type than continuing with the traditional rural house typology. Photo 4 d) Residences built recently at the outskirts of the rural settlements and along new roads cannot be distinguished from houses in the urban fringes of Muscat photo 5 Outside of existing rural settlements: Highways and by-pass roads are the main incubator for new settlements: e) the petrol and service stations every 50 kilometers along the highways form the nucleus of further buiding acticities and very soon a small mosque will be added and one or two residential houses, supposingly for those who work around the petrol station. A few months later, more houses are going to be built, and services are extended, offering a laundry, a coffee shop, a small fast food restaurant, attracting more families to live and step by step a small settlement is going to be established. This is the case in nearly all petrol stations along the highway between Muscat and Nizwa, which is taken as case of reference. Photo 6 f) the locational choice for new large scale governmental buildings (new ministries, new university premises (Halban, Knowledge Oasis), and for head quarters of big companies (Oman Tel, Bank of Muscat) encourages another pattern of transformation. These huge buildings and complexes attract hundreds of employees and/or clients per day, increase the need fort rips by car, increase the need for new roads and finally form the nucleus of new scattered settlements. Photo 7 Along with rural to urban transformation as illustrated above the threat of negatively affecting the unique landscape and the characteristic natural scenery is alarming. The following photos show how far the deranged balance between nature and urbanization has already destroyed what has been classified as the beauty of Oman and is one major factor for the cultural identity in the country. Photo 8, 9 & 10
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