A vision for Palestine's future
Yasser M. Khaldi (Urban Strategies and Design 2017) has taken the skills he developed at Edinburgh College of Art and applied them to a vision aimed at revolutionising urban planning and design in Palestine by 2050.
Yasser, who was raised in Palestine, returned to his home city of Ramallah immediately after graduation and began collaborating with the Prime Minister’s Office and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on an issue very close to his heart – the ongoing and progressing development of Palestine.
“I wanted to utilise what I had learned at Edinburgh for the good of Palestine,” he says. “And the best way I could do this was by becoming involved in the proposal of innovative urban strategies and concepts that could be implemented, and that would lead to sustainable, smart, and inclusive urbanization for Palestinian cities.”
Yasser, with backing from local government and the UNDP, devised a series of seminars under the title: "Towards a Long-term Vision for Sustainable Development: Palestine 2050" that took place in the Palestinian Economic Policy Research Institute last year. Participants ranged from academic experts and politicians to representatives from related international organisations and the private sector.
“We discussed and probed the most pressing issues,” says Yasser. “These included current urban growth, infrastructure, transportation and liveability. We also looked at how policy and governance of the cities should be tackled, and discussed the development of a comprehensive framework that would encompass quality of life, socio-economic change, climate change, resource allocation, and digitalization.”
Palestine: 2050 Vision
The seminars form part of ongoing research for Yasser that he calls ‘Palestine: 2050 Vision’, and that also includes a documentary he produced in collaboration with the Al-Quds Educational Channel in Ramallah.
“I wanted to produce and present something that really captures the research in an engaging way,” he says. “In the documentary I speak with thought-leaders, experts and community members and highlight the opportunities we have in a thorough and positive way.”
Solutions Not Sides
Yasser credits much of his time at Edinburgh with developing his own grasp on the complex political and social situation in Palestine. One extra-curricular programme he was involved in was Solutions Not Sides, a cross-community student leadership initiative that puts students in direct contact with peace activists. It had particular impact on Yasser:
“The programme aimed to raise awareness of the Israel-Palestine conflict,” says Yasser. “The purpose was to facilitate constructive and informative dialogue on the subject, advocating being not simply ‘pro-Palestine’ or ‘pro-Israel’ but ‘pro-solution’. It was about facilitating harmonious discussion, joining up students with like-minded young people, passionate about human rights and justice - something I have embraced in my own research.”
As well as his work on ‘Palestine: 2050 Vision’, Yasser is currently working as a planning engineer, contributing to planning, and monitoring one of the largest infrastructure projects in Doha known as the Bustan Street Project, which includes the development of new bridges, underpasses, pedestrian areas and bicycle paths. Moreover, he is actively working on publications about various trending topics such as urban resilience, and renewable energy planning.
He has wise words of advice, too:
“Make sure you surround yourself with achievers,” he says. “There are various things to do, places to go, people to talk to, conferences to attend, and knowledge to gain - so plan and leverage your time to gain the most from life.”
Yasser's Chevening Scholar profile (external)