Cities, Biocapacity, and Trade: The Case of Ma’rib

Karim Elgendy

Human settlements have traditionally needed an environmental rationale to exist where they do. They needed access to freshwater and to ecosystems that have enough biocapacity to produce biological materials to sustain their residents. Settlements also required a climate that was moderate enough – or can be economically moderated – to support human habitation.

But for these settlements to become thriving cities, the prerequisites above were not enough. Successful cities depended to a large extent on their integration into an efficient trade network.

One historic regional example of this is the rise and fall of the city of Ma’rib, which is today a settlement of less than 20,000 people just 75 miles east of the Yemeni capital Sana’a, but for almost a millennium, was one of the region’s greatest cities.

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Cities of the West Bank

Karim Elgendy

Most cities have a good reason for being located where they are. The major Palestinian cities of the WestBank are excellent regional examples of rational city location. The old cities of JerusalemHebronBethlehem, RamallahJenin, and Nablus are all located on the flat ridges of the West Bank mountain range, benefiting from mild climate and significant rainfall – unlike locations only 15 miles to the east such as the oasis city of Jericho.

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