The New Arab UrbanGulf Cities of Wealth, Ambition, and Distress

The New Arab UrbanGulf Cities of Wealth, Ambition, and Distress

Harvey Molotch and Davide Ponzini

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9781479880010

Publisher: NYU Press


This book is a way to learn from the Persian Gulf – to use its cities, cultures, and politics to broaden our understanding of how wealth and power operate in the world today. To learn from cities of the Arabian Peninsula -- places like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha -- does not mean celebrating them or ridiculing them either. It means looking closely at how they operate and their prospects for future impacts inside and outside the region. Here, a group of scholars from across the disciplines and much of the world, strives to emplace the new developments in wider histories of trade, of technology, and of design. They trace where the money, ideas and projects come from and where they end up going. They show how Gulf elites import planning and design solutions, along with brands and prestige cultural institutions, from the West – and also what they then send out. The Gulf set-ups – in real estate, finance, and governance -- function as “test beds” for new state-market arrangements. Also involved is the massive import of temporary labor and, almost incidentally, severe ecological deficit. Gulf Cities display extreme manifestations of urbanization trends that, however unanticipated in the grand traditions of urban scholarship, now impact the world.

Table of Contents


Harvey Molotch and Davide Ponzini

Section I The Gulf as Transnational

1 Giving the Transnational a History

Alex Boodrookas and Arang Keshavarzian

Section II Assembling Hybrid Cities

4 A Gulf of Images

Michele Nastasi

6 Planning from Within

Hilary Ballon

Section III Urban Test Beds for Export

7 Gateway

Mina Akhavan

8 Exporting the Spaceship

Gökçe Günel

Section IV Audacity, Work-Arounds, and Spatial Segmentation

11 Consuming Abu Dhabi

Harvey Molotch


Harvey Molotch and Davide Ponzini