Middle Eastern cities cannot be lumped together as a single group. Rather they make up the urban kaleidoscope of the title, as the diversity of the six cities included here shows. They range from cities rich in tradition (Cairo, Tunis, and Baghdad), to neglected cities (Algiers and Sana'a), to newly emerging 'oil-rich' Gulf cities (Dubai). The authors are all young Arab scholars and architects local to the cities they describe, providing an authentic voice with an understanding no outsider could achieve. These contributors move away from an exclusively 'Islamic' reading of Arab cities - which they regard as outdated and counterproductive. Instead, they explore issues of identity and globalization in the context of the struggles and solutions offered by each city from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Their focus is on how the built environment has changed over time and under different influences.

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