Cities of the Arabian Peninsula have been depicted stereotypically as exceptional and futuristic: the world's tallest building in Dubai; Saudi Arabia's hyper cities being built from scratch; fantastic infrastructures for Qatar's 2022 World Cup. 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, one can see how urban projects circulate transnationally, how physical and social structures lead to institutional work-arounds and how hybridization operates in situ. We can also learn - given the extant great capacities for capitalization and mandate - the evident limits of efforts to artificially enact urban environments and societies.