Middle East

Mercedes Volait and Mohammad al-Asad

in The Oxford Handbook of Cities in World History

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199589531
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Middle East

Show Summary Details


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

Article.  8973 words. 

Subjects: History ; World History

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.