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date: 21 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article traces the growth and development of cities in the Middle East, highlighting the shifts in political and economic levels, demographic dynamics, and social and spatial transformations. It suggests that in contrast with the situation prevailing in colonial Africa or India, Middle Eastern cities transformed socially, culturally, and physically following a specific pattern that combined external forces and internal agency. Consequently, the local engagement with Western-style modernity in pre-colonial, semi-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial times and its changing expressions over time is a recurring theme in this discussion. The article is divided into two parts. The first period covers urban transformation in the region from the enactment of Ottoman Land Law of 1858 at one end and the independences of the 1950s at the other. The second period covers the era opened by decolonization, marked by the growth of statism and a subsequent shift to economic liberalism, illustrated by the growing number of large-scale/urban real-estate development projects fuelled by oil money.

Keywords: Middle Eastern cities, urbanization, modernity, decolonization, Ottoman Land Law 1858, statism, economic liberalism

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