Urban sprawl of cities in the desert : a comparison of Tucson, Arizona and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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Alshammari, Talal O.
Kelly, Eric D.
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Thesis (M.U.R.P.)
Department of Urban Planning
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Urban sprawl is a new term that describes new development outside central cities and often with relatively low densities. There are many effects that urban sprawl can have on cities. Usually, urban sprawl appears in cities which have many natural resources such as industrial benefit (i.e. oil) or living benefit (i.e. water). Urban sprawl becomes a particularly significant problem in such cities as desert cities. It needs to be ensured that these cities do not lose significant amounts of money and any further construction needs to be in accordance with the surrounding environment. This project is a comparative study of two desert cities: Tucson, Arizona in the US and Riyadh City in Saudi Arabia. The study will identify the different nature of the two cities, compare the different cultures that affect their populations, and then analyze the two desert cities. By using these cities as examples, I hope to identify tools that may be useful in developing solutions for the future and limiting the risks associated with urban sprawl. In terms of similarities, the extension of both cities is linear; the Tucson Mountains border the north of Tucson and in Riyadh there is a large linear extension on the west side of the valley. Secondly there are similarities in the layout style where most of the neighborhoods in the cities are networked. Thirdly the weather is similar in both desert cities. The main issue, which is the same for both cities, is how we can lay the foundations for further controls so that urban sprawl does not destroy the existing beauty of both of these cities. The methodology of this study is to fully understand the underlying environmental, economic, social and political factors which affect the formation and expansion of these two cities. As well as accessing studies in the field of urban sprawl in the United States and Saudi Arabia, the intention is to understand the solutions currently in place in these countries and learn how to deal with the problems caused by urban sprawl. This will lead to the development of appropriate policies for Tucson, Arizona and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where the similarities between these cities means that the patterns of urban planning are likely to be similar.