A tale of three cities: The rise of dubai, singapore, and miami compared

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The literature on “global cities”, following a publication by Saskia Sassen of a book under the same title, has focused on those prime centers of the capitalist economy that concentrate on command-and-control functions in finance and trade worldwide. New York, London, Tokyo, and sometimes, Frankfurt and Paris are commonly cited as such centers. In recent years, however, another set of mercantile and financial centers have arisen. They reproduce, on a regional basis, the features and functions of the prime global cities. Dubai, Miami, and Singapore have emerged during the first quarter of the XXI century as such new regional centers. This paper explores the history of the three; the mechanisms that guided their ascent to their present position; and the pitfalls—political and ecological—that may compromise their present success. The rise of these new global cities from a position of insignificance is primarily a political story, but the stages that the story followed and the key participants in it are quite different. A systematic comparison of the three cities offer a number of lessons for urban scholarship and development policies. Such lessons are supplemented by the experiences of other cities that attempted to achieve or sustain a similar global status but failed, for various reasons, to do so. Such experiences are also discussed in the conclusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8566
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 2 2020


  • Capitalist world-economy
  • Dubai
  • Global cities
  • Miami
  • Singapore
  • Urban inequality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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