Divergent historical paths and different levels of state attention have led to different developmental paths by the contemporary port cities of the Persian Gulf. Some port cities were established as company towns by Western oil enterprises, with Abadan and Dammam as primary examples, designed specifically for purposes of segregating Western employees from local ones and housing each according to hierarchy and rank. Dammam has received government attention and resources, but Abadan has mostly been left on its own, still bearing the scars of Iran's war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988. Also largely ignored are secondary port cities such as Basra, Bushehr, and Bandar Abbas, especially in comparison to the aspiring global cities of Kuwait, Manama, Doha, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai. Whether this latter group of port cities have reached the status of “global cities” is an open question, despite their expanding roles as nodes in global networks of transportation, logistics, and services. Impressive buildings and modern landmarks they have in abundance, but whether form can attract or foster substance is yet to be seen.

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