Spectacular Urbanization amidst Variegated Geographies of Globalization: Learning from Abu Dhabi’s Trajectory through the Lives of South Asian Men


The world city aspirations and spectacular urbanization of Gulf cities such as Abu Dhabi rest on the combination of petrodollars, connections and labour. Drawing on interviews with South Asian men working there, this article reports their lives and labour as a mirror to the development of Abu Dhabi. This requires and invites an investigation of spaces of social reproduction, raising broader theoretical and comparative issues about these in the context of Gulf cities and other sites of rapid urbanization and migration. Transnational categories and connections are thereby opened up in ways that have implications for the study of other cities.