This case explores the ethical planning dilemmas that can arise from client-driven, private sector development. The case takes place in the 2000s in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), during a time of exuberant investment and rapid expansion of luxury urban development, despite the prevalence of extreme poverty and environmental concerns. Students will take on the role of a recent Master of Urban Planning graduate whose first assignment with a US planning firm is to help plan a villa complex in Sana’a, Yemen, targeted to Yemen’s small elite and military class. Students must weigh their long-term career goals and personal ethics when deciding whether to challenge or meet questionable client desires.
advocacy planning, economic development, environmental planning, social justice, planning ethics, private-sector planning
- Understand the dynamics of, and difficulties with, reconciling one’s own values with diverse planning challenges, directly and indirectly.
- Explore the potential conflicts inherent in client-driven urban development projects where maximizing return on investment is the dominant development criteria (versus government-led or community-based development).
- Recognize the short and long-term implications of promoting exclusive residential development in the context of widespread poverty and environmentally sensitive lands (i.e. the intensification of spatial segregation).
- Consider the role and influence of international financial flows in local development.
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- Frank, L. (1997). Chapter 26, The development game, 263-273, in Rahnema, M. (ed). The Post-Development Reader. London: Zed Books. Read the book summary
- Coy M and M Pohler. (2002). Gated communities in Latin American megacities: case studies in Brazil and Argentina. Environment and Planning B, 29: 355-370. Read the abstract
- Vanessa, V. (2003). Conflicting rationalities: implications for planning theory and ethics, Planning Theory and Practice, 4(4): 395-407. Read the abstract