Islamic world is a great expanse of states with ancient and rich civilizations that should be introduced to the world. Cities with unique historical and cultural values each contributing to form a priceless world heritage.

On the other hand, the re-discovery of these cities to establish residential values for development of new urban structures is a strategical consideration in the development of Islamic world.

Urban identity is essential. How can we think of urban development without relying on urban identity?

Urban identity is a city’s indicator and as a city has various dimensions, urban identity also adopts various forms, among them Historical, social, economic, and cultural dimensions.

What the Atlas targets is to reintroduce the urban identity of Islamic cities in terms of their architecture, environment, and residential context through a critical and multi-dimensional approach.

Architecture and architecture of the city were spatial concepts in the past and possessed a separate identity for every location based on what was previously explained. Though the character is expressed in architectural form, but it is deeply connected to human life and environment.

Typology of housing in cities today has been established regardless of the historical journey and precious experience involving this context and consequently is devoid of spatial and conceptual application.

Understanding the housing identity of each city will pave the way for a more progressive discipline for architectural and aesthetic quality. It’s true that due to an identity crisis in urban forms, we critically label cities short of the morale to emanate humanistic behavior and expression. And this may lie in city managers’ neglect in understanding housing personality, pattern, and the concept of “space”. This ignorance is taking its toll on developing resources and interests of cities at large.

 One of a city’s vital resources is its historical and cultural assets which forms the foundation of the tourist industry as one of the most important targets for development worldwide. The key to develop tourist industry is to understand and promote urban identity and to take into account the conceptual differences of each city.
On this basis, the principles of this applicable research would be as follows.

Understanding the evolving urban values such as cultural heritage, and historical social physical and natural values.
Rediscovery of the typology of housing in the old city from spatial and architectural standpoint
Understanding symbolic examples of urban identity
Identification of cultural, geographical, population, and local studies.
Assessment of relevant urban NGOs

 Structure and Definitions:

Chapters: The atlas of the cities of the Islamic World consists of three main Chapters of Housing, Architecture, and Urban Identity
Operator: Generally, the Atlas is crated in the Research and Capacity Building Dept. of UN-Habitat
Atlas of the cities of Islamic World: The Atlas is identified as a pilot project that can be expanded to include urban issues such as environment, energy, etc.
Secretariat: The secretariat of Atlas is established as the result of cooperation between the host municipality of Tabriz and International City Leaders (ICL)
Chair: The mayor of the host municipality will chair the Atlas. The chairman will be jointly appointed by World Assembly of Islamic Cities (WAIC) and ICL for a period of two years.
Executive Council: The high council will consist of 7-11 mayors from Islamic cities worldwide selected by the chairman of the Atlas.
Executive Technical Support Council: The council is comprised of 9 members that are selected by the chairman of the Atlas from experts in United Nations, ICL, and partner Universities.
Research Operator: The official operator of the Atlas project is ICL

Atlas Organisation Chart








Geographical Domain

The Atlas of the cities of the Islamic World will cover cities from 58 countries. These countries will include: Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Mauritius, Somalia, Palestine, Djibouti, Khmer Islands, Western Sahara, Brunei, Chechnya, Dagestan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Crimea, Surinam, Guyana, Mali, Maldives, Kyrgyzstan, Senegal, Mozambique, Niger, Cameroon, Gambia, Togo, Gabon, Chad, Guinea Bissau. It should be mentioned that the historical and cultural significance of the Islamic world civilization and the fact that this domain is the birthplace of major ancient civilizations has helped this project to be recognized as a pilot project by UN-Habitat.



2, Jul, 2015: Signing of MOU with the city hosting the Secretariat of Atlas
2, Sep, 2015: Composition and submission of the executive plan to the Secretariat
15, Sep,2015: Presenting the proposal to the Executive Council and Executive Technical Support Council
31, Oct, 2015: Launching the Secretariat of Atlas, the Conference Call for the first session of Executive Council, and the First Meeting of the Executive Council
31,Oct,2015-31,Dec,2015: Assembling the Research teams in UN
31,Dec, 2015: Deadline for Admission of Cities to Atlas, Signing of Agreements and Making the Payments
15,Jan, 2016: Commencement of field Research
15, April, 2016: Expert Group Meeting to present and conducting the Final Review of city Reports by UN Researchers
15,Jun,2016: Final Presentation of Atlas
15,Jun,2016- 30,Aug,2016: Preparation of the Book of Atlas
1, Sep,2016- 18,Sep,2016: Printing the Book
18,Oct,2015: Launching the book of Atlas in Habitat 3 Conference

Atlas Contents:

Atlas covers Housing, Architecture, and Urban identity. The research is designed to focus on these three topics. However, the content listing is made based on the country and city names. The Atlas would include a minimum of 2 cities and a maximum of 6 cities from each country, each city with its own specific tri-dimensional profile.

Firstly, an introduction for a conceptual examination of the three dimensions of Housing, Architecture, and Urban identity will be given. Then there will be a short report from the city mayor to provide a general outlook on the city. The chapters will follow based on the details listed below.


  • City History
  • City Geography
  • City Sociology
  • City Economy
  • City Development Values
  • City Environment
  • Housing Quality Evaluation


  • Architecture, cultural heritage and monuments
  • Physical typology and typology of houses in the city
  • The technology of construction materials
  •  contemporary architecture, challenges, and the present conditions
  • Architecture and local changes
  • Architecture and energy
  • Assessment of architectural conditions in the present

Urban Identity

  • Identity report of the old city
  • Elements of identity in the present city, public spaces and places
  • Notable and sustainable values in urban identity
  • City’s outlook
  • City’s social identity
  • Urban identity and sustainable development

The approach, the titles of the above chapters, and their sub-chapters are subjects of discussions in the executive technical support council. During the process, the general issues and details will be discussed. Each research will provide a report on present, past, and future of the city.

To conduct a research, it is necessary to form a research team for each city. A central team will also need to process the information. Each team will be comprised of a minimum of two architects, one urban planner from the international team, and two sociology and development experts from the city. The cities should provide the researchers with the pre-requisite basic data based on the specified format.

Scientific workshops for contents of Atlas
The executive technical support council is comprised of 9 internationally renowned and leading experts in the disciplines of architecture, urban development, sociology, urban future, and urban identity

The 4-member research team for each city consisting of a minimum of 2 architects and urban planner and 2 local experts.

The central atlas creation team comprising a minimum of 7 experts in disciplines that are strictly relevant to the subject so they can take responsibility of obtaining the reports, submitting the information, technical modification of chapter headings, and quality preservation. The compilation of the profile to collect data is assigned to this team

The compilation of pictures is the researchers’ duty. These photos can be purchased from local photographers or be taken by the researcher. However, the pictures will be qualified by the project’s QC advisor.

The IT advisor will be responsible for designing a computer system to collect and archive the data and reports. This information will be obtained and archived in specified systems and will set the basis for the balance sheet and the continuation of the life of Atlas.

Literary editor: The Atlas literary editor will edit the printing draft


Atlas of World Islamic Cities


Towards a Prosperous Urban Future For All