Cities of the Persian Gulf have been stereotypically depicted as exceptional and futuristic. Against such celebrations, Orientalist claims stress socio-political backwardness and inequalities, as well as cultural dependency on the West. As opposed to using the Gulf to issue judgements, urban scholars can use instances of extreme urbanization to discern trends that – for better or worse – are ascendant in other world regions as well. In particular, urban projects can be seen to circulate transnationally, and physical and social structures lead to institutional work-arounds and how hybridization operates in situ. Research can also discern – given the extant great capacities for capitalization and mandate – the evident limits of efforts to artificially enact urban environments and societies.