This study presents a theoretical framework on and empirical accounts of state formation, development, and deformation in the Arab world. Taking a comparative historical methodology, the article raises several questions: What is the difference between a regime and a state? What kind of regimes emerged in the Arab world and how do we explain variations in their formations and types? Why have some state-building processes failed whilst others succeeded? The study's main finding is that state building in the Arab world can be described as a bell-shaped curve rather than a linear approximation of Weberian or Westphalian notions of statehood.