Sample Urban Studies Paper on Civic Engagement, Social Inclusion and the Local Government


My city is part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) federation. UAE consists of seven emirates and my city is known as Dubai. Dubai has faced internal and external challenges socially, economically, legally, and politically. These challenges have affected the city’s socio-economic aspects for decades. The legal and political aspects in Dubai are however mainly affected by insecurity, crime, and terrorism. Consequently, power positions, authorities, and systems in the city have not changed for a long period. This is in spite of immense growth and improvement witnessed in the city. Recently, the city has been engaged in civic engagement to identify and address the internal and external issues challenging the effective and efficient running of the city of Dubai through the local and municipal governments (WHO, 2008).

In 1995, the public was invited to attend an open forum platform aimed at identifying policies and decisions that can improve Dubai city. This platform was established and implemented under the Dubai International Awards Practices aimed at improving living environments in the city. This is a policy program that was planned, developed, and fully established in 1995 by the local governments in Dubai. It was an international conferencing platform comprising over ninety countries. It strives to identify and recognize the best and positive impacts capable of improving the environments among attending cities. Dubai city was represented by Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashi Al Maktoum. They form the Dubai municipality and local government support to the city’s growth and development programs. This policy program is committed to achieving sustainable growth and development in Dubai city. It also aims at protecting the city of Dubai against environmental, social, economic, political, and legal challenges (UAE, 2013).

In 1995, the Dubai Conference Declaration established rules, regulations, and principles adopted by United Nations Conference on Human Settlements. They comprised measures and approaches aimed at achieving democratic, safe, secure, and sustainable environments within the city of Dubai. The decision-making, policy governance, and city resources are either allocated or managed by the local management. The local and municipal governments are sovereign and democratic. More so, they are capable of defining applicable and sustainable policies that can foster growth and development in Dubai city. Thus, they are tasked with developing, amending, and replacing civil engagements while working together with the members and representatives forming the Dubai public. They strive to promote and achieve high qualities and standards of life in Dubai. However, several issues and challenges in Dubai city have hindered the local and municipal policies and programs (UAE, 2013).

Issues in Dubai City

The United Arab Emirates does not consider the power and authoritative systems as either plausible or radical. The city of Dubai, therefore, continues to witness fights in power systems as they strive to eradicate violence yet radical movements and actions. Globalization has further affected the city’s financial and economic policies. As a result, the processes undertaken by Dubai city to change structural and authoritative local government systems are distracted. The local government’s main goals and objectives include providing safe and clean water to the people. It also aims at ensuring sanitation is safe, healthy, and affordable just like the housing and community service and facilities (Kenneth, 2014).

It strives to access secure tenures, land, and financial resources that are community-based. They are utilized in planning and rehabilitating Dubai city. Thus, including members of the public in public forums conducted in Dubai city is crucial. This is because city dwellers are in a better position to identify the most affected neighborhoods in need of services provided by the local and municipal governments. The local government however is faced with corruption, poor leadership skills, and insecurities. These challenges hinder the local and municipal governments from executing and achieving the listed goals and objectives effectively and efficiently (UAE, 2013).

The local governments in Dubai city are also overwhelmed by the high rates of unemployment. Local governments are tasked with creating job opportunities. This is aligned with other measures such as eradication of poverty and reduction of crime rates in Dubai city. High rates of unemployment attribute to high rates of crime. Dubai city is mainly comprised of Muslims. In the past, Muslim women hardly strived to acquire employment opportunities due to religious beliefs. However, technology advancements and innovation have increased the number of educated women seeking employment presently. Thus, the number of unemployed youths is high. As a result, more youths are involved in criminal activities to earn and sustain their living standards (UAE, 2013).

In 2012, terrorism sponsorships through Islamic Revolutionary programs caused instability in various countries and regions including Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Reports indicated incidents of torture, curfews, government restrictions from freedom of movement, speech, and assembly coupled with absenteeism from judicial independence were a major challenge to the public. The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) conducted a series of campaigns to raise awareness and educate the youth on alcohol consumption, smoking, and substance abuse. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the parliamentary cabinet members asserted that the youth are vulnerable to join terrorist groups. Youths join terrorism groups to either support their families or fund their drug-addictive behaviors (OECD, 2010).

Terrorism acts are destructive and damaging. They attribute to massive loss of lives and property. They also violate human rights, laws and hinder growth and development plans in the city and the larger UAE. Societies in Dubai city also face a challenge to curb human trafficking. Poor economic, social, legal, and political standards in the city have rendered multiple members of the public desperate. As a result, public members from Dubai city strive to acquire employment opportunities in foreign countries to earn a living and support their families. However, it was reported some programs aimed at providing local members from Dubai city with job vacancies are involved in human trafficking. The number of women trafficked from Dubai to Asia has recently been on the rise. They are trafficked and forced into slavery, sexual abuse, and violent working conditions. Although the local and municipal governments have been working hard at reducing these incidents, it has been challenging due to high rates of corruption (Kenneth, 2014).

Recommendations and Conclusions

The public members who attended the forums highlighted this issue. Some people who had experienced these issues asserted they continue to suffer emotionally and psychologically. Although they affirmed reporting their plights to the local government, they declared their disappointment with regards to the local government. They asserted the local and municipal governments had neither developed nor implemented measures and approaches aimed at solving, reducing, and eradicating these issues (Brenton, 2011).

Engaging members of the public in the processes of identifying major and minor issues hindering was crucial. It provided them with a chance to list issues and challenges hindering them from leading high-quality and standard lifestyles. It was a perfect opportunity for members of the public to list and discuss the challenges and issues they face on a daily basis. More so, the platform was also an opportunity to highlight some public opinions and ideas aimed at solving, reducing, and eradicating the challenges. The forums were open to all members of the public. Thus, the poor, rich, managers, and government leaders were free to attend and contribute their ideas and opinions. The city of Dubai strives to develop policies and programs capable of resolving and eliminating these issues. The ideas, opinions, and statements gathered from the public through the forums were therefore listed as acceptable and applicable (UN, 2005).

However, it was noted that government leaders played a major role in planning and managing the forums. This was an issue among the public as they had doubts and reservations about their government leaders regarded as corrupt and selfish. They had doubts that the issues discussed in the forums would either be addressed on a later date or ignored. However, the public forums and programs were successful in spite of the public regarding their government leaders as corrupt and abusive to official duties and premises. Thus, I believe future forums ought to be planned, developed, and the functions as well as operations undertaken and managed by members of the public. This will promote official and social integrations thus, identification of issues affecting people in different social, economic, and income levels. The forums ought to identify, list, and solve the issues diversely as they affect people differently (Brenton, 2011).



Brenton, H. (2011). Citizens’ Engagement in Policymaking and the Design of Public Services, Politics, and Public Administration Section Report.

Kenneth, K. (2014). The United Arab Emirates (UAE): Issues for U.S. Policy, Congressional Research Service Report.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2010). Regulatory Policy and the Road to Sustainable Growth, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Report.

United Arab Emirates (UAE). (2013). Dubai International Award for Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment, Dubai Municipality Government Report.

United Nations (UN). (2005). Enhancing Civil Society Participation in Public Policy Processes, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia Report.

World Health Organization (WHO). (2008). Our Cities, Our Health, Our Future: Acting on Social Determinants for Health Equity in Urban Settings, WHO Commission Social Determinants of Health Report.