Social Impact of the Economic Development in Emerging Global Cities of the Middle East: The Case of Dubai

By Mina Akhavan.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: September 5, 2014 $US5.00

The Middle East is an emerging region of globalization and its cities are becoming more connected in the world city network. Dubai—as a significant example of a major global city in this region—has been shaped through international forces, and with a remarkable speed, it has managed to grow into a brand new metropolis from an isolated fishing village. This paper is concerned about the social impact of the economic development imposed by globalization trends in Dubai. Considering the wide range of concepts and theses in “globalization,” “global cities,” and their socio-economic impacts, the theoretical framework of this research is mainly based on limited literature and scholarship from researchers such as Sasski Sassen and Chris Hamnett. Because the social impact study is a broad and confusing topic, the empirical study is centered on a selection of relevant criteria such as employment rate, occupational structure, level of income, and education. Based on the methodology, the case of Dubai is analyzed in order to understand the social impact of globalization, and more importantly to find an evidence of absolute or partial social polarization. The data analyses show a rising polarization—in income and occupation—which is different to the introduced theories applicable to the Western world. By insisting on the a lack of such studies for fast-developing Middle Eastern cities, the paper concludes by recalling the need for a change in the theoretical approach in global city studies and adapting more cosmopolitan paradigms.

Keywords: Globalization, Polarization, Dubai, Urban and ExtraUrban Spaces

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 4, Issue 3, September 2014, pp.13-25. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: September 5, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 636.323KB)).

Mina Akhavan

PhD Candidate in Spatial Planning and Urban Development, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy