Beyond/Within Dubai: Writing beyond the Glitz in the Khaleej

The past two years have been a generative space of writing on the cities of the Gulf from Showpiece City to Graveyard of Clerics to Archive Wars to Temporary City to Building Sharjah. Such scholarship in addition to ‘Temporary People’ by Deepak Unnikrishnan has been a sudden wave toward a renewed understanding of the Gulf. These are not merely urban histories but more layered than it meets the eye. Farah Al Nakib’s Kuwait Transformed is a game changer regarding the literature on Kuwait. Sinews of War and Trade by Laleh Khalili is an eye opener on the labor and maritime histories of the region in particular, Dubai infrastructural politics.

These books acknowledge the presence of migrants and minorities and differentiated lens on the Tarikh of the region. There are still narratives of Muscat, Sohar and Salalah to be written along with Abha and NEOM, may be a history in the making (a behind the scenes account).

Writing from the region is an attempt to produce knowledge from the region and with the region. Dubai gets the attention, that is a starting point on writing on other cities in the region too.

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