A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What's in a Name? The Streets of Abu Dhabi

It's not unusual in older Middle Eastern cities to find that a given street is usually known by a name other than its official one; older Cairenes long clung to pre-1952 names regardless of what the official nameplates said, and in the era of frequent Syrian coups in the 1950s and 1960s, streets might be renamed with each turn of the revolving door.

But one expects a bit less of this in the newer Gulf cities. Abu Dhabi was not much more than a small town until the oil boom; many of its streets were laid out after independence in 1971, and there were still vast areas of streets without buildings when I first visited in 1981.

But, as this article in The National notes, the official numbered streets system led to streets being known by what was on them or what they went to rather than by their official numbers; now, a new system of renaming streets after prominent personalities is adding to the confusion.

No comments: