Living in larger cities comes with both: A promise to make you happier, as urban life has many advantages to offer, such as more and better job and education opportunities, proper infrastructure, availability of cultural services and health facilities, reliable public transportation, culinary offerings, cultural diversity and vibrant communities. However, cities also present their residents with numerous challenges ranging from higher population, housing shortage and infrastructure densities to noise and air pollution, overcrowding, urban heat islands, and greater stress.
In addition, the chances and challenges of cities can be very diverse and specific depending on their location, landscape, and cultural geography. The urban landscape in Germany, for example, is very diversified – there are cities of different sizes all over the country – whereas many cities in the Arab region tend to form the main centers of their respective countries. Also the surrounding landscapes often play a central role for a city`s attractiveness, development and opportunities: Munich, for example, is located in the direct vicinity of the Alps, Cairo, Jeddah and Kuwait City are surrounded by desert landscape, Berlin is characterized by many waterways, and Algiers, Hamburg, Kuwait City and Tunis are situated by the sea.
Identifying ideas, concepts and solutions for healthier, more social, and happier city life
In order to tackle challenges of urban life at an early stage, AGYA members Prof. Dr. Dr. Ahmed N. Hegazy and Prof. Dr. Mohammed Alkatan initiated this research project. Together with fellow AGYA members and alumni as well as international experts, they investigated innovative concepts to promote and maintain urban health and happiness from an Arab-German perspective by addressing the following questions: How can we make city life healthier, more social, and happier? Is there a scientific formula for a Happy city? Which ideas, concepts and solutions have already been developed in Arab and German metropolises? And what can we learn from each other?
From Berlin and Munich all the way to Cairo and Tunis
The results of this research project were chosen to be published in the easily accessible format of a science-based podcast series in order to generate a wide outreach and communicate the findings to a broad audience. The podcast is appropriately titled Happyopolis – a combination of the words happy and metropolis – and defines a happy, healthy and social city as the ideal to be achieved in the future.
Each episode of Happyopolis focuses on a specific Arab or German city, revolves around a particular subject, is informed by two guests for discussion and lasts approximately 30 to 45 minutes. Thus, the podcast features cities across the Arab world and Germany, from Berlin, Hamburg and Munich all the way to Algiers, Cairo, Jeddah, Kuwait City and Tunis.
Why these cities? It is surprising just how many ideas for a happy and healthy city life they have developed. Although the challenges of these diverse metropolises may be very specific, the solutions they have adopted can be universal and are thus worth discovering and transferring to other communities. Listen to bright minds like AGYA member Ahmed N. Hegazy, who was born and raised in Cairo and currently works at Charité – University Medicine Berlin, or H. E. Sheikha Intisar Al Sabah, who is the founder of Alnowair, a non-profit organisation dedicated to positivity in Kuwait, as they share their research and innovative solutions. The variety of topics covered in the podcast is as diverse as the cities themselves, addressing questions, such as:
- How to cope with urban stress caused by the simultaneity of social density and social isolation?
- How does access to blue and green spaces affect the physical and mental health of urban dwellers?
- How to ensure female well-being in urban spaces?
- How to innovate the mobility systems of larger cities to lower traffic jams, noise and pollution?
- What can smart architecture and urban design do to strengthen the health of a city’s population?
- In what way is climate change affecting our health, especially in big cities, and what are potential resources in the context of climate resilience?
- What influence does urban art have on shaping the identity and self-expression of young people?
The podcast series follows an interdisciplinary approach. Guests include urban planners, architects, positive psychologists, public health and sustainability experts, engineers, artists, policy-makers and many more.
Happyopolis is hosted by Dr. Louise Lambert, who is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She is the editor of the Middle East Journal of Positive Psychology, a peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to the MENA region’s wellbeing, as well as a psychologist, researcher and professor with 20 years of experience in counselling, mental health, higher education and research, and primary healthcare. She has lived in the UAE for 10 years doing organizational and educational consulting, as well as teaching and research in happiness and wellbeing and is the head of Happiness Programming and Policy Design with www.HappinessMatters.org.
Happyopolis is a podcast by AGYA in cooperation with Charité - University Medicine Berlin and is produced by WE ARE PRODUCERS.
Find the Sneak Peek: BERLIN (Happyopolis Episode 1) here and the Sneak Peek: KUWAIT CITY (Happyopolis Episode 2) here. Stay tuned for more.
- Disciplines Involved
- Medicine, Health Sciences, Sports Sciences, Architecture, Urban Studies, Environmental Engineering, Arts
- Cooperation Partner
- Charité - University Medicine Berlin
- Funding Partner
- Senate Chancellery – Higher Education and Research Berlin
- Affiliated Projects
- Global Berlin in the 21st Century
- Arab Berlin: Dynamics of Transformation
- Towards A Sustainable Mobility Future
- Papyrus to Twitter: Museum Presentations in a Digital Age
- Project Title
- Health and Happiness. Arab-German Perspective on Living Environments in Larger Cities
- Funding Scheme
- Berlin Project
- Countries Involved
- Algeria, Germany, Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia