The Saadyital Island cultural district in Abu Dhabi

Hamed Al Hamad, Shabbar Abbas Jaffry, Alexandros Apostolakis

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The concept of cultural quarters or districts is based on the seminal work by Jacobs (1970), Marshall (1920) and Schumpeter (1934). The concept, developed in the back of economic geography context (Monk and Monk 2007), has received considerable attention and has grown exponentially in terms of popularity. Essentially, cluster (or geographical district) formation and emergence can be attributed to the emphasis placed on the encouragement of industrial clusters in early 1950s as a response to declining post‐industrialised economies and economically deprived locations (at either the local, regional or national level). Marshall himself considered the spatial concentration of factors of production as an essential step in the realisation of pecuniary, agglomeration and labour externalities. Porter (1990) then argued that ‘geographically localised’ or ‘clustered’ firms could potentially enhance economic growth. In culture and tourism settings, the concept has proven to be considerably popular among researchers, practitioners and managers alike, despite its relative short association with either of the two sectors. Basically, the argument is that clustering of cultural tourism resources in close geographical vicinity is an important influential factor on urban development (Zheng 2011). According to Scott (2004, 2006) cultural quarters can be described as cultural production centres providing conducive cultural environment and scope for better economic achievement and entrepreneurship (Heur 2009). In particular, the emergence of cultural quarters as facilitators of local economic growth and development is based upon the conceptualisation of cultural heritage as capital (Rizzo and Throsby 2006, Scott 1997). Thus, cultural heritage capital may be conceived as a resource with a high economic potential (Ashworth and Voogd 1986). The literature in the area has provided a rich account of case studies and relevant papers applying the concept of cultural quarter or district as a form of policy panacea to solve local economic development and other economic related objectives (Bassett et al. 2002).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCreative districts around the world
Subtitle of host publicationcelebrating the 500th anniversary of Bairro Alto
EditorsL. Marques, G. Richards
PublisherBreda: NHTV
ISBN (Print)9789081901130
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


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