Migrant Cosmopolitanism in Emirati and Saudi Cities: Practices and Belonging in Exclusionary Contexts

Hélène Thiollet, Laure Assaf

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Mass migration to the Gulf cities has produced, over time, de facto cosmopolitan situations. Even though cosmopolitanism is somewhat present in national narratives and official propaganda, foreign residents face exclusionary contexts where policies and practices keep them excluded from the national community. This chapter unpacks the internal tensions characteristic of cosmopolitanism in the exclusionary contexts of the Gulf by comparing cities in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. These tensions operate within migrants’ everyday practices and modes of consumption in urban spaces. We argue that these practices are best understood as a form of segregated cosmopolitanism through which the different migrant communities both acknowledge (and at times consume) urban diversity and maintain certain boundaries. Building upon the analysis of discourses and ethnographic fieldwork in Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Jeddah, this research engages with theories of cosmopolitanism from a situated perspective. It moves away from the classical, normative approach to cosmopolitanism and highlights the fragility of everyday cosmopolitan situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIMISCOE Research Series
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameIMISCOE Research Series
ISSN (Print)2364-4087
ISSN (Electronic)2364-4095

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Migrant Cosmopolitanism in Emirati and Saudi Cities: Practices and Belonging in Exclusionary Contexts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this