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The New Arab Urban
Gulf Cities of Wealth, Ambition
and Distress

Harvey Molotch and Davide Ponzini (eds)

Published by New York University Press | English | 368 pages | 65 illustrations ISBN: 9781479897254, 2019

Cities of the Arabian Peninsula reveal contradictions of contemporary urbanization. 
The fast-growing cities of the Persian Gulf are, whatever else they may be, indisputably sensational. The world’s tallest building is in Dubai; the 2022 World Cup in soccer will be played in fantastic Qatar facilities; Saudi Arabia is building five new cities from scratch; the Louvre, the Guggenheim and the Sorbonne, as well as many American and European universities, all have handsome outposts and campuses in the region. Such initiatives bespeak strategies to diversify economies and pursue grand ambitions across the Earth.
Shining special light on Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha—where the dynamics of extreme urbanization are so strongly evident—the authors of The New Arab Urban trace what happens when money is plentiful, regulation weak, and labor conditions severe. 

Just how do authorities in such settings reconcile goals of oft-claimed civic betterment with hyper-segregation and radical inequality? How do they align cosmopolitan sensibilities with authoritarian rule? How do these elite custodians arrange tactical alliances to protect particular forms of social stratification and political control? What sense can be made of their massive investment for environmental breakthrough in the midst of world-class ecological mayhem?
To address such questions, this book’s contributors place the new Arab urban in wider contexts of trade, technology, and design.
Drawn from across disciplines and diverse home countries, they investigate how these cities import projects, plans and structures from the outside, but also how, increasingly, Gulf-originated initiatives disseminate to cities far afield.
Brought together by noted scholars, sociologist Harvey Molotch and urban analyst Davide Ponzini, this timely volume adds to our understanding of the modern Arab metropolis—as well as of cities more generally. Gulf cities display development patterns that, however unanticipated in the standard paradigms of urban scholarship, now impact the world.



Introduction: Learning from Gulf Cities | 1
Harvey Molotch and Davide Ponzini 

The Gulf as Transnational 
1. Giving the Transnational a History: Gulf Cities
    across Time and Space | 35
    Alex Boodrookas and Arang Keshavarzian
2. Problematizing a Regional Context: Representation
    in Arab and Gulf Cities | 58 
    Amale Andraos 
3. Mobilities of Urban Spectacle: Plans, Projects,
    and Investments in the Gulf and Beyond | 79 
    Davide Ponzini 

Assembling Hybrid Cities 
4. A Gulf of Images: Photography and the Circulation
    of Spectacular Architecture | 99
    Michele Nastasi
5. Planning for the Hybrid Gulf City | 130
    Laura Lieto
6. Planning from Within: NYU Abu Dhabi | 147
    Hilary Ballon

Urban Test Beds for Export 
Gateway: Revisiting Dubai as a Port City | 175
    Mina Akhavan
8. Exporting the Spaceship: The Connected Isolation of Masdar City | 194
    Gökçe Günel
9. “Two Days to Shape the Future”: A Saudi Arabian Node
     in the Transnational Circulation of Ideas about New Cities | 213
     Sarah Moser 

Audacity, Work-Arounds, and Spatial Segmentation
10. Real Estate Speculation
      and Transnational Development in Dubai | 235
     Yasser Elsheshtawy
11. Consuming Abu Dhabi | 256
      Harvey Molotch
12. A Quest for Significance: Gulf Oil Monarchies’ International
      Strategies and Their Urban Dimensions | 276
      Steffen Hertog

Conclusion: From Gulf Cities Onward | 300
Harvey Molotch and Davide Ponzini

| 321
About the Contributors | 323


Harvey Molotch is Professor of Sociology at New York University. His books include the classic, Urban Fortunes (with John Logan) and more recently, Against Security: How We Go Wrong at Airports, Subways, and Other Sites of Ambiguous Danger. All books by Harvey Molotch
Davide Ponzini is Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies at Politecnico di Milano, Italy. He is the author (with Pier Carlo Palermo) of Place-making and Urban Development, and (with photographer Michele Nastasi), Starchitecture: Scenes, Actors, and Spectacles in Contemporary Cities. All books by Davide Ponzini


→ March 11, 2019
     London School of Economics, LSE Cities + LSE Middle East
→ April 22, 2019
     New York University, Institute for Public Knowledge
→ April 23, 2019
     Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture Planning
     and Preservation
→ April 26, 2019
     McGill University
→ April 27, 2019
     Canadian Center for Architecture
→ April 29, 2019
     Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Architecture
→ May 13, 2019
     KU Leuven, ASRO