The city of Dubai, as well as other Arab Gulf cities, have been rightly privileged in the field of urban studies as applied to the Arab/Middle Eastern region. The spectacular rise of Arab Gulf cities is often referred to as a model for other cities, particularly in the Arab Middle/Eastern region, where many architects, contractors and urban planners aspire to replicate. However, is that really what is happening? This paper argues that the focus on the Gulf model conceals local dynamics in cities across the Arab world, which also has implications in terms of understanding the trend of ‘neoliberal urban developments’ in the region. This paper will use the cases of the ‘Abdali project’ in Amman, Jordan, and the ‘Solidere project’ in Beirut, Lebanon, to show the limits of understanding these developments as cookie cutter models of Gulf cities and to demonstrate that more attention needs to be paid to the local circumstances, dynamics, and influences that shaped urban developments in the two Levantine capital-cities.
Keywords: Solidere, Lebanon, Neoliberalism, Dubai