AL MANAKH: GULF CONTINUED, the continuation to AL MANAKH, published in 2007 is a collaboration between REM KOOLHAAS and Dubai-based consultancy, PINK TANK.
In essence, this is an insightful, in-depth book exploring the Gulf cities. It touches on the challenges faced by the region – in the wake of the financial crisis – and raises questions about the future.
Consisting of interviews, travel logs, analyses, propositions, info graphics and photography, Al Manakh Gulf Continued provides an intimate look at six Gulf cities in five countries - UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
With over 140 contributors to the book, it is a wealth of information. Boasting endless credible sources it dissects the events of the financial crisis and analyses how the Gulf coped. Never before have the Gulf cities been documented in such a manner. It questions urban development in the future, human rights and raised cultural concerns, topics which are still considered sensitive and very briefly documented in the region.
Never mind that Al Manakh: Gulf Continued does not seem like a typical book you would pick up. Flipping through the book, it allowed me to view the Gulf cities in a whole different manner.
The main voices and editors of the book include, Rem Koolhaas, TODD REISZ (OMA), DANIEL CAMARA, MITRA KHOUBROU (Pink Tank), LILET BREDDELS and ARJEN OOSTERMAN (Archis/Volume), and OLE BOUMAN (Netherlands Architecture Institute).
When Mitra and Daniel first started Pink Tank in 2008, she spoke of how one of their main objectives was to re-launch the Al Manakh project and how they passionately felt that it was “time to initiate another level of investigation on Gulf cities”.
That’s exactly what Al Manakh Gulf Continued represents. It gets to the heart of the problems and challenges faced in this region, in the hopes of supporting the movement towards a more transparent identity in the Gulf region in communicating and executing its visions. And, they do so smartly by integrating the use of credibly verified statistics and research with charts, data, diagrams and visuals, making it easier to digest.
Sketchbook managed to speak to Mitra about the story behind Al Manakh: Gulf Continues, the significance of the book and how the idea first came about.
How did the collaboration between Rem Koolhass and Pink Tank first happen?
This relationship dates back from the time Daniel Camara (co-founder of Pink Tank) and I worked at Dubai Holding. HANS-ULRICH OBRIST from the Serpentine Gallery and STEFANO BOERI from Domus Magazine at that time had recommended we approach Rem in view of the International Design Forum and Initiative we were organising. Rem accepted to become a board member of our Design initiative with the intention of creating content together.
How did people respond to Al Manakh?
The response to the first Al Manakh was extremely positive. There is little documentation in the region on the rapid development it has undergone over the last 30 years. Both internationally and regionally, the first Al Manakh triggered a lot of positive reactions. We just launched Al Manakh Gulf Continued and so far the reaction has also been very positive.
What is the story behind Al Manakh Gulf Continued?
Al Manakh: Gulf Continued delves into the region’s new challenges by profiling six cities in five countries. It uncovers the structures and networks that lay underneath the stories and events of 2009. The book is not a summary of a year of crisis but an attempt to define what these transformations mean for the future of the Gulf and what are the lessons to be learnt.
Who does the Al Manakh Gulf Continued hope to speak to?
Almost everyone. At Pink Tank, we always try to present it as an urban/economic/social guide to the region. Whether you are an architect, urban planner, economist, student, artist, you will find something of interest in Al Manakh Gulf Continued. Our analysis of the crisis on Gulf cities is multi-layered and multi-dimensional and therefore accessible to everyone.
With over 140 contributors, tell us how you are able to pull that many people in?
We are a great team. Some of us are based in the region and travelled in the Gulf over the past 14 months to meet and interview personalities. We also have a number of team members based in Holland who were in touch with international contributors. Thanks to the networks of the OMA, Archis and Pink Tank in the region we managed to reach out to some of the most interesting thinkers and players in Gulf cities.
Where is the book stocked?
In most of the bookstores in Dubai and Abu Dhabi thanks to the help of Jashanmal and Magrudy’s. We are also collaborating with galleries, art centers, universities and think tanks in the region (including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar) to make sure that Al Manakh Gulf Continued has a presence there. Internationally Al Manakh Gulf Continued is distributed through the wide network of Volume Magazine. Orders in the region can be placed at email@example.com
What is your next project and are you looking to any new collaboration?
Pink Tank continues to provide advisory services to governmental and private companies in the region. This role is less visible as we don’t directly own the projects but advise our clients on their strategies. Pursuing our passion in design is something we are extremely committed to.
Text JOYCE SEE
Images Courtesy of AL MANAKH