Little Bangladesh – Mapping Abu Dhabi featured videos, photographs, architectural plans and an opening-night lecture to reflect on work on what the professor terms “informal public spaces”.
The subject of the exhibition was an area that Prof Elsheshtawy called Little Bangladesh, because of the many Bangladeshis who frequent there.
It is the low-wage migrant communities of South Asia that shape the “informal” landscapes Prof Elsheshtawy studied as they have neither the money nor the inclination to access to social spaces used by other communities, such as malls, hotels and resorts.
Prof Elsheshtawy believed his study could hold important lessons for the direction of development in Abu Dhabi.
Little Bangladesh is a block tucked behind the Marks & Spencer store and the main buildings that overlook Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street, also known as Airport Road.
Ease of access to informal public spaces was, for Prof Elsheshtawy, an important characteristic of truly diverse and human-centred cities.
Prof Elsheshtawy said: “I started studying the area in 2010 for work I was doing on informal urbanism in Abu Dhabi, similar to work on Dubai which has been a focus of study for many years. I wanted to know if Abu Dhabi had space for gatherings of low-income migrants.